I knew this day would come...the day my kids wanted an e-mail address. I've been putting my son off for years (he's eleven). While I love all this new technology for myself, it scares the bejesus out of me when I think about technology and my kids.
Why, you might ask? To be honest, I think that kids nowadays spend way too much time on the computer and other electronic devices (some day I'll post the trials and tribulations we have had with the Nintendo DS in the Mentor Mom household!). It is not just the fear of them spending hours with their noses pressed up against a screen, it is ensuring that they are safe when on the internet -- no small task nowadays with all the creepy creeps out there!
So, I found this article that shares info on what parents need to consider when looking for an e-mail account for their kids. It also shares a list of some sites that offer free e-mail accounts for children with parental controls. We've decided to go with ZillaDog.net. It was easy to go in and set up accounts for both kids along with their "buddy" lists. Parents can choose to get copies of their children's e-mails if desired. The biggest plus to me is that my kids can only send e-mails to friends that I add to their list.
I also checked out KidRocket which seems pretty cool. This site primarily serves as a secure entry point for kids to the internet. Kids can only access a number of preconfigured web sites, eg, Disney, The Cartoon Network, etc. It has a timer so you can limit their time web surfing. While I like all these features, I found the e-mail a bit cumbersome. I like the idea of being able to set a time and have it lock them out when time is up -- eliminates the "Get off the computer" "I just gotta get to the next level" debate. I'm going to have to play around more with this one. Not sure about constantly having to enter my password to sign on/off, etc. I'll keep you posted on this one.
Do you have any tips when it comes to kids and computer safety? Post your suggestions!