It seems every application today needs an email address, and in many cases, it is warranted (e.g. password reset). However, as a parent of a 7-year-old, I am not ready to create an unmonitored email account. As a concerned parent, I will share with you how I manage my children’s email accounts.
A few years ago I decided to give Luminosity a try for some family brain-building exercises. However, every member of my family was required to have his/her own email account. At that time my youngest was almost 6 years old, and I was not about to create an email account for him; therefore, I used one of many ticks available in Gmail.
For my personal email, I use Google Gmail account. As a Gmail user, I am able to specify any combination of strings after a plus (+) character to create an email alias. For example, given the email firstname.lastname@example.org, the parent can make use of the following email aliases abc+CHILD1@gmail.com, abc+CHILD2@gmail.com, and so forth. As a result, you will see receive any emails regardless of the suffix after the (+).
This worked great for my younger child since there is no reason for him to engage in any form of email communication. However, my pre-teen son (10 years old at the time) did need to communicate with others (e.g. teachers, family, etc). In this case, I decided to create a separate email for him; however, I forwarded all his incoming messages to my email account. The rationale for monitoring all incoming messages is two folds:
1) I can monitor incoming messages for security concerns
2) I can ensure that he is following up on his academic messages
Though I don’t see any emails that my son sends, I do see all incoming email messages. You as a parent must decide when is an appropriate to turn a blind eye because you wish to respect your child privacy. However, in today’s digital age, where colleges and employers look at all postings regarding prospective candidates, it is our responsibility (parents & guardians) to help keep doors open and keep our children away from harm.
This addresses the email communication monitoring; but, it does nothing about other communication methods such as chats, online forums, etc.
During my graduate studies, I was researching online forums and came across a 12-year child who started chatting with me at 3:00 o’clock in the morning. Why was this child up at this time in a forum that was inappropriate for her age; I’m sure her parents had no knowledge of her actions. We lock our doors and windows at night to secure our family and might be neglecting other areas of concern.
The topic of cybersecurity is important and warrants more than a blog post; but, I wanted to introduce a possible strategy for email management.