As more and more online services require accounts and email addresses to use them, children will want their own email addresses sooner. If your kids are interested in their own email addresses, don't panic. There are programs that provide safe email for young kids.
Most email options for kids make use of a "white list" which is a list of approved email addresses as determined by parents. Spam and other unwanted messages generally can't get through. You won't have to be worried... about any strangers emailing your child. Parents should keep their child's tech skills in mind when setting rules for computer use. A technologically precocious child who feels that their privacy is being invaded may seek alternative free email options without their parent's knowledge. Each service differs slightly in what it provides, there's sure to be one that meets your specific needs.
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ZillaMail is a free email service that allows parents to set up "Buddy Lists" for their kids. Parents also have the option to send a blind carbon copy of all messages to their own account in order to track their child's activities. Additional features include filtering for language and spam as well as customizable "skins." For younger children, ZillaMail can read mail out loud which is a great way to help children learn to read. The service can also make children who are too... young to read feel more involved with email and make them want to learn more about technology.
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KidsEmail is a comprehensive web-based email program that allows you to choose between a white list and a black list (block out unwanted senders). It has filters, parent controls such as time limits, parent blind carbon copies, and the ability to block out images and certain kinds of attachments. You're allowed up to four child accounts per adult account.
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ZooBuh is a web-based email provider with a range of features including the choice between white lists and black lists, a contact manager, parental controls, blind carbon copies to parents, and customizable filters. Parents can choose to remove links, attachments, and images from incoming mail.
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KidMail is an email service, much like you get from your Internet service provider. You can access KidMail email from an email program that allows POP/SMTP access such as Thunderbird, Eudora or even Gmail. Messages are kept in a quarantine folder until parents approve them. To help minimize the time this takes, the messages are ordered by priority based on familiarity with the contact and other criteria. Parents can then delete the message or allow it to be delivered. This is a nice option for... parents who want a lot of control over their kids' email access. KidMail sends an authentication message to anyone who sends a message that is not in your child's contact list.