Should My Kid Have Email?

Email was really, really cool among young people about 15 years ago, but now it’s viewed less as a primary means of communication (texting and social media have taken over that role) and more as a nuisance due to spam and email lists. Nevertheless, email addresses are still required for registering with most websites and all iTunes or Google Play store accounts. So the question is: should you let your kids have their own email address? As with most things online, there are some definite pluses and minuses when considering this question. What Should I Watch Out For?: There are a few big things about email that you need to be careful about.

  • Spam. A lot of companies and bogus businesses send out spam that can look real, with the express intent of tricking people into sending private info back. (in other words, no, that was not an African prince who contacted you and you aren’t really going to get millions of dollars from him). Kids are pretty terrible at reading email warily, so you’ll have to warn them ahead of time that they can’t trust everything they get.
  • Inappropriate emails from friends. Emails can be deleted pretty dang easy, which can be a pretty scary thing for a parent. Your child can hide things from you fairly easily with one click of the “delete” button, so be aware of that.

What Are The Positives?:  Email is viewed now more like a tool for emailing images, video links, and any type of long form information. Most teens probably would rather shoot a text to a friend than an email, but email is still around and definitely can be beneficial when used appropriately. What Are The Negatives?:

  • At the end of the day, you can’t fully control what winds up in your inbox, meaning your child could potentially sign up for one seemingly harmless thing using their email address, only to wind up being sent advertisements to porn, adult content, or other salacious material.
  • Also, leading a double life can be accomplished fairly easily through having multiple email addresses, so as a parent, stay on top of how many they have and what they use it for.

What We Think: Email is fine if you as a parent set it up right from the start with passwords and expectations. Don’t assume your kids is perfect and won’t get into any trouble: if you let your kid have one, check in often in their account, yes keep their password and log in yourself. If your child doesn’t want to give up their password, then you know you have issues.