Children are interested in technology, and the Internet is intriguing. They may see you e-mailing friends and family, and want to get in on the action with their own e-mail account. Until a child is old enough to have an uncontrolled e-mail account, sign him up for a free children's e-mail account that will allow you to block unsafe content, and monitor incoming and outgoing e-mails.
Yahoo! Family Account
Yahoo! offers a free Family Account, which lets parents or guardians give consent for a child younger than 13 to create a Yahoo! e-mail account. To sign your child up, you must have your own Yahoo! e-mail account first. Then, visit the Yahoo! registration page again, and fill out the form with the child's information, including her birth date. When you submit the form, you will be prompted to give permission for the child to register for an account, which will link to yours. You must verify that you're the legal guardian or parent of the child by putting in a credit card number. Yahoo! charges 50 cents for this verification, but the email account is free. The under-13 account places restrictions on the child's ability to perform many tasks available to older users, such as posting personal ads, receiving advertisements, creating websites, using Yahoo! chat and making a public profile.
AOL Kids Email
AOL offers free "Kids + AOL = KOL" e-mail accounts for children whose parents have an AOL e-mail account. To sign up as an adult, navigate to the AOL website and click "Get a Free Account" at the top of the page. Sign up for an account. Next, visit the AOL Parental Controls site, check the age group into which your child falls -- such as kid, teen or mature teen -- and fill out the rest of the form. Next, download and install the parental controls software provided free by AOL. Finally, return to the Parental Controls website and click "Edit" next to the child's account in the green "Settings" area of the page. Click "e-mail Settings" and set your preferences. You have the option to set a filter to allow only specific incoming e-mails; filter the child's e-mail through your own account; and set instant messaging, chat room, blocking of e-mails with files or pictures, and download preferences. Outbound mail is not monitored.
Other Free Email for Kids
Several other free e-mail accounts for children are available, as are safe browsers, game sites and filtering systems. Type "free child e-mail" into the search box on FreeSearching.com to retrieve a list of free Internet services for children, including several e-mail offers such as Adam2, Gaggle, Junior Mail, KidMail, KidRocket, Kid-Safe Mail, PikLuk, Starfish Family Mail and TK for Kids.
Remind kids that they should never reply to e-mail sent by someone whom they do not know; send personal information, such as address or telephone number, by e-mail; or give out their e-mail password. Teach your child not to bully and not to chat with strangers online. If your child is bullied or contacted by a stranger, tell him not to respond and to tell a parent right away.