We don't have any relatives here on island, but we want our children to reach, communicate with, and better know their extended family. Plus, our kids have friends that have moved away that they miss dearly and pen pals to keep in touch with. Having seen me frequently emailing people, wanting to emulate grown-ups and become more independent, and because they are children of the technological age, it stands to reason that they want their own email account too! But with all that great technological power & potential in our kids hands comes great parental (worry &) responsibility to safeguard and guide our children! Technology is an inseparable part of their future, so (in our house) we believe it would be a disservice to keep our children from it entirely. The internet is a complicated world and we want to introduce it to them safely. A kids email program could be one way to help us do just that.
Big Sis (9) has been more interested in email lately and Lil' Sis (6) has started learning how to type properly, so they were both excited about trying KidsEmail.org Annual Subscription and I was curious to explore the parental controls & features. Though we've only had the accounts for a few weeks, we've gotten a good feel for it. Read on to see what we think of it so far.
Email is a great tool and kids can really benefit from having access to it too, but most standard email accounts are designed with adults in mind. While most of us have become accustomed to weeding through the ads (both sneaky and blatant), inappropriate spam, potentially hazardous attachments, complicated features, and embedded links, these aren't things we want our children to navigate on their own until they have developed the judgement and ability necessary. Especially for our young children, we want to know with whom they are communicating and to what they are being exposed.
KidsEmail.org offers subscriptions to web based email designed specifically for kids, giving them some autonomy while giving parents tools to monitor, protect, and supervise. There are also apps available for Apple, Amazon, and Android phones and tablets so the email is accessible wherever they go.
This service allow parents an array of options, most of which which can be activated or disabled for each child's account as a parent sees fit. So a younger child might have more protective measures and monitoring than an older teen. The accounts can thus be used to provide a child with increasing independence and freedom as they grow.
Some of the special features offered are:
Big Sis wrote a few sentences of her own for this review. She even typed them up and sent them to me from her KidsEmail.org account! She wrote: "I really like it! It's easy to navigate with it, and you can't lose your contact's e-mail. And in the settings you can change the the background - mine is a wolf in snow on a hill - there are lots of things I love. I like the painting thing too. There are only two things that I want to change : 1. A background that is of the sun at different times of the day. 2. A save button and/or a place for drafts."
I agree with her. There is a lot to like about this kids email service.
It was easy to get started. Once I set up my parent account, I added my two children and we chose their email address and password. I selected the options for monitoring and account settings for each child, added contacts that we wanted to allow them to communicate with, and we were all set!
Unlike most email services that I'm accustomed to with lots to look at, this one doesn't have unnecessary clutter. It is streamlined and super easy for the kids to figure out. There are only a few "buttons" on the side navigational bar, it's easy to find contacts and the advanced editing tools for the email messages (font, colors, etc.) can even be turned off if a child isn't ready for (or doesn't need/want) those options. And of course we love that there are no ads!
Both my girls loved the options for different backgrounds. I didn't like how some of them didn't seem to fit the screen quite as well as others... but that's just the perfectionist in me talking and is such a minor thing really that my kids didn't notice and loved every one of them.
Really the only solid drawback we found during our use of the annual subscription was the lack of any way to save an email in progress. There wasn't a "draft" folder, as my daughter pointed out above. That was a big issue for us because my daughters are still learning to type or take some time to decide what they want to write or make it just like they want it. Big Sis was "interrupted" twice in one day by having to eat lunch and then later having to go to bed and she couldn't save her work. We solved this problem by copying her work-in-progress to a text file to save it and then copying it back to a new outgoing message later, but it would be nice to be able to just click "save". This might not be an issue for other children and families, but for the sake of kids like mine, perhaps they could add this as a feature in the future!
We liked this email service and it was perfect for my kids to feel like they could handle email entirely on their own while I knew they wouldn't be encountering anything unsafe or inappropriate. I was impressed with the many options for various levels of monitoring and controls, providing us with lots of flexibility to choose exactly what works best for each child and stage of their development. And, of course, my kids were thrilled to have their own email!
At the time of this post, an annual subscription costs $2.99/month (billed annually) for up to six email accounts or $4.95 monthly for up to 4 accounts, but you can also try it free for 30 days first!
If you want to know more, you can find KidsEmail.org at their website or on social media on: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, or Instagram!
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.