If you are on the web, you need an email account — everywhere you go, every website you visit requires an email address. You cannot deny there are endless benefits to having an email account. However, rising email spam and increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks are a concern for any email user — even more so for a child.
Children are currently using emails more than in the past due to online classes and other online activities. Even though kids are typically more tech-savvy than their parents, you cannot leave email safety to themselves with spammers, scammers, and harmful content everywhere.
What Is an Appropriate Age for A Child to Get an Email Account?
The age restriction most email service providers put is 13 years. However, it is common for children under 13 to have a personal email account as some school activities require it. Most email providers put special regulations in place for users under the age of 13. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits online service providers from collecting information on users under 13 without consent.
Regardless of which age you feel is appropriate or necessary for your child to have a personal email account, it is essential to discuss online safety and email security practices. Make sure that you and your child are on the same page and aware of the potential threats and dangers.
Which Email Service Providers Are Safest for Kids?
Most popular email service providers offer parental control and other features to ensure personal email security. Gmail, iCloud email, and Outlook are viable options for children. These email providers are the same for children as they are for adults. But they might have limited accessibility and features. For example, Gmail limits the following features to users under 13 –
- Ads: Google won’t serve ads in Gmail or process Gmail messages for advertising purposes.
- Automatic forwarding: Children can’t automatically forward emails to another email address.
- Gmail offline: If their device isn’t connected to the Internet, children can’t read, send, or search their Gmail emails.
- Labs: Children can’t turn on experimental Gmail features.
- Mail delegation: Children can’t give someone else access to read, send, or delete their emails.
- Spam: If Gmail identifies an email as spam, it won’t get delivered to your child’s inbox or spam folder.
If you are looking for something more reliable and safer, you can also opt for paid email providers especially built for children. These paid email accounts include built-in features to protect kids from spam and harmful content.
How to Keep Your Child Safe from Email Spam?
Avoid using your child’s name in the email address
You should avoid using your child’s full name on their email address for two reasons. First, it makes it more guessable and risks exposing it to unwanted parties. Second, your child will most likely use a different email account when they grow up. So, it’s better to leave the address available for later. Also, avoid using any numbers associated with their personal information such as birthday, address, birth year, area code, etc. You can use initials or part of their name or an easy-to-remember but hard-to-guess phrase for the email address.
Limit your child’s email address visibility
Spammers and scammers scour through the Internet for already exposed email addresses to send spam emails or organise phishing scams. If your child’s email address is revealed on the web, it puts them at unnecessary risk.
Go to Sniff Email to check your kid’s email address visibility on the web. Sniff Email is an online platform dedicated to finding out if an email address exists on the Internet. Enter your child’s email address in the search field and click fetch to find out if it exists on the web within a few seconds. Based on the results, you can take appropriate action to remove it or open a new account for your child.
Set up spam filters
You can set up spam filters to block emails from specific addresses or emails containing triggering words. Since your child won’t be expecting mails from a whole variety of sources, you can also add the trusted recipients to the spam filters to only allow emails from them. Spam filters can often fail to identify cleverly designed spam. So, in addition to filtering, discuss safe ways to identify and interact with spam email with your child.
Set up a forwarding address
To monitor your child’s email activities, you can set up a forwarding address in most of the popular email service providers. It will automatically forward all emails to your email account for you to read. Make sure to add your child’s email address to your account to avoid them from ending up in your personal spam filter.
Use a parental control tool
Using a parental control tool is the best way to ensure your child’s online safety. Advanced parental control tool monitors for signs of cyber bullying, online predators, adult content, depression, acts of violence, suicidal ideation, and more. They also alert you if your child attempts to create another email address or social media accounts without your authorisation. They block and alert you about spam emails or other problematic content and dangerous activities.
Your child’s online safety is just as important as their offline safety. Internet is a great place to learn, but it allows strangers to interact with your child without your knowledge. Create awareness about potential threats on the web and discuss email security practices with your child before giving them access to a personal email account.