My Youngest was very pleased to receive his own email when we were given an Annual Subscription from KidsEmail.org as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. He delights in the ability to send emails to family, and I appreciate the ability to monitor his use.
KidsEmail.org has a number of settings that can be customized as each family desires. Here is a look at the basic control panel home for the parent. This control panel allows the parent to customize the amount of oversight for each email address separately.
The greatest advantage to this program for my family are the Safety settings:
- Receive mail from contact list only (yes or no) *other messages sent to queue to be reviewed by parent
- Send mail to contact list only (yes or no)
- Allow child to edit contact list (yes or no)
- Send parent copy of incoming mail (yes or no)
- Send parent copy of outgoing mail (yes or no)
- Allow images from incoming mail (yes or no)
- Allow links in received emails (yes or no)
- Allow attachments in received emails (yes or no) (can be further customized to attachment type)
- Allow bad words in received emails (yes or no) *most common bad words filtered out
- Add tagline to sent messages (yes or no) *makes sure recipient knows they are communicating with a minor (Older teens will appreciate having this turned OFF ;))
- Send email sender a notification when email goes to queue (yes or no) * This setting lets an unapproved sender know that their email will be delayed until a parent approves it (or refused if not accepted)
Some of these settings are no brainers for any age (Filter bad words... umm.. who wouldn't?) and others depend upon the maturity level of each child, and the amount of trust placed in each child.
The one setting that the children have total control over is the appearance setting~ there are a number of backgrounds that can be chosen, with a number of options to satisfy the tastes of many ages.
Tested it with my older teens (because there is that option...) and my daughter, who uses her iPod almost exclusively was having problems with the site~ The emails window is so small that she had to zoom in to write anything. You can see how tiny it is in the screenshot to the right. Then, if she wanted to add an one of the smiley faces, she would have to zoom in even further to be able to click that button. After clicking, rather than returning her to that location in the email, the program would zoom her in to random parts of the screen, and she'd have to click around to find the text again ~ rather frustrating. Thinking that this may not be optimized for tiny mobile devices.
My Youngest didn't seem to have any problem using it on the iPad as far a reading and writing emails.
However, he did run into another problem when he tried to send a drawing to his Dad from the iPad. The drawing tool wouldn't allow him to make multiple strokes, so he wasn't able to actually DRAW much (ie... a smiley face or written words unless in cursive). He did figure out a little go-around, as you can see at the bottom of the screenshot to the right... but it took three different attachments. We checked it out on the computer, and drawing on the trackpad worked fine, but I'd like to see this feature optimized for mobile devices, as that is what is used most often in our home, whether a tablet or an iPod, and I suspect in many other homes as well.
While I have never had any reason to distrust my older kids' communications, my youngest has very little discernment at this point, so the ability to give him the freedom to communicate (like his older siblings) and yet monitor what goes in and out is a really nice option. The world is rapidly changing around us as technology grows and becomes more commonplace, with access being granted/expected at younger and younger ages (particularly as families travel or live long distance from grandparents, etc), so I appreciate when companies step up to help make it safer for our youngesters to be able to communicate with friends and family.
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty
- Company: KidsEmail.org
- Product: Annual Subscription
- Ages: Literate through teen
- Free 30 day trial
- $38.95 Annually for up to 6 accounts ($2.99/month)
- $4.95 Monthly for up to 4 accounts
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