KidsEmail is a safe web-based e-mail program designed especially for kids. Parents can screen incoming and outgoing messages, approve their child’s contacts, and set time restrictions. Set-up is easy and safety features can be customized for each child based on age and your preferences. There is even an app for kids to use access e-mail on their iPods or iPads, or for Android devices.
I wanted to give it a test run and was delighted – yes, delighted! – to learn they offer a free 30-day trial with no strings attached. You don’t have to enter a credit card and then remember to deactivate after 30 days. If you wish to continue after that, it’s $4.95/month for up to four children. They also have a 12-month subscription at a reduced rate.
So I signed up which took all of two minutes. After completing the sign-up form I received an e-mail, clicked to confirm, and arrived at the parent login page.
Once logged in, you create an account for each child. You will choose their e-mail address and display name. You can choose a standard account or a teen account for an “older child”. Standard accounts are in the format email@example.com while the teen account is firstname.lastname@example.org. Teens might prefer an e-mail address that does not include the word “kids”. The teen account also has a more “grown-up” interface (no princesses or racecars). So I set up my 11-year old with the “grown up” options. (An explanation of these differences would be a great addition to the FAQ page).
The next step is to set up the safety features. There are great options here, such as:
- Only allow sending and receiving e-mail from an approved contact list
- Remove images and links from e-mails
- Receive a copy of each ingoing or outgoing e-mail so you can monitor
- Filter “bad words” out of incoming e-mails
- Disable attachments, or only allow attachments of certain file types
- Check out all the features
Everything is clearly explained and suggestions offered for each feature. After setting up safety features you can set time restrictions, manage contacts (if you’ve only allowed sending and receiving from the approved list) and even block a particular e-mail address.
Does it Work?
I tested sending e-mail to my daughter’s new address from an e-mail account NOT on her approved contacts list. As the parent I was notified of this and the e-mail was held for moderation. I could then log in and either approve or reject the message. Every other feature I tested worked exactly as described. I sent a message with an image, an attachment, and curse words, and all were filtered out. I sent a message outside of the time restrictions, and she could not log in to receive it.
The KidsEmail app
I also downloaded the KidsEmail app from the app store and tried it out on my daughter’s iPod touch. Most of her web and e-mail activity is from the iPod touch and I think that’s the case with lots of kids these days. The app worked as expected with no issues.
If you choose to establish a KidsEmail account for your child and install the iPod/iPad app, I would also recommend setting Restrictions under General Settings. Under “Allow Changes” be sure to click “Accounts” and set to “Don’t Allow Changes”. This will disable your child’s ability to set up other e-mail accounts on the device without your knowledge.
If you have a younger child and are thinking of establishing their first e-mail account, I would start here. As they grow older you can adjust the safety settings or switch to the teen account. I highly recommend KidsEmail for a safer alternative to standard web-based e-mail accounts for kids.
Learn more at the EmailKids website.