Introducing your kids to email

Our 6-year-old son loves to read & write.  I am always looking for new fun ways to get him practicing and recently it was suggested to me that I give him his own email account.  At first I though “is 6 too young?”… but in this day & age, kids are being introduced to technology at such a young age.  I felt this would be an exciting way for him to correspond with family, while building reading, writing and computer skills.  Plus, a huge sense of independence by having his OWN email account.

This idea came with much reservation though.  We’ve all seen the junk that comes into our email addresses.  I don’t want my kids seeing any of that.  Adding to that those annoying ads at the side of the page that cannot be controlled and the thought of child predators targeting him, I was pretty much ready to scrap the entire idea.  However, with a quick Google search, I quickly learned that someone has already had all these thoughts and there are quite a few sites out there offering child-friendly email services.

I spent some time going through the top recommended free sites.  It’s a good idea to read the fine print because as it turns out, for the most part the free service is quite limited.  One site I came across would only allow the user to send emails to others who have email accounts on the same site.  I could see this being okay, you would just ask friends/family to sign up – however who needs ANOTHER email address?  I have no problem eventually paying for a service, IF I like it. 

In the end, we decided to go with Zilla Dog. The free service allows your child to send & receive email from up to 5 email addresses which the parent specifies.  All other email is blocked and will not be delivered.  I figured to start, 5 was plenty and if I want to add more later, the $20 per year to upgrade to unlimited email addresses seems more than worth it. 

What I love about this site is that parent and child have separate log-ins.  I can log in to control his account and when he logs in, it’s an easy to use simple screen with large icons.  As I have pre-set his email buddies, he simply clicks on the TO field and chooses who he would like to converse with.  There is even an option to attach files if he’d like to send pictures.  For those friends/family who wouldn’t mind signing up for a Zilla Dog email address, there is also a chat option available so you can chat in real-time as well. 

Yesterday, I introduced him to his new email.  He was extremely excited and after a quick tutorial on how to compose an email, he was on his way.   For his five buddies, we’ve chosen Mommy, Daddy and our parents.  He was busy composing emails while I was making dinner and very quickly, email replies began to come back.  He would run back up to me in the kitchen “Mommy, mommy!! I got an email from Nana”! 

Last night when my husband was tucking him in, he said “I can’t wait to check my email tomorrow to see who wrote me”.  He has always enjoyed reading but this is a whole new level of excitement.  I expect I will be upgrading very soon as it won’t take long for him to start asking if he can email others outside of his buddy list.  🙂

Have you introduced your kids to email yet?



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