If you've made the decision the allow your child access to the Internet, the last thing you want to worry about is her opening a lewd message or someone with nefarious intentions easily finding her e-mail address. Luckily, there are some options for free e-mail accounts that will give you the parental controls you need to protect your child.
Sites that Offer Free E-mail for Kids
Kidsurf offers free e-mail for kids, called K-Mail, that takes online safety a bit further than most free email options. K-Mail is free, but kids can only communicate with their list of friends who also have K-Mail accounts. The ideal way to utilize this site is to get together with a few like-minded parents, and sign your kids up for an account. This way, your kids' friends also have accounts, and they can interact with one another in a safe environment. Features include:
- Both spam and e-mail from those who are not on their friend's list is blocked.
- Upgrade option available for $10 per year that allows your child to communicate with others outside the K-mail network.
This is, in essence, a no frills option and ideal for younger children who do not have to communicate with teachers or others via email. If you want your child to get emails from anyone else, they have to sign up for a K-mail account too.
ZillaDog works with schools to provide free e-mail. ZillaMail can be accessed from any web browser, is secure from spam and has full parental controls. Kids will enjoy this free e-mail because they can change skins to customize their account. Parents will love it because it automatically blocks both profanity (even if it's used by an approved buddy) and personal information. The site even offers a free online demo, if you'd like to try it out before you allow your child to sign up. Parental controls on ZillaDog will let you:
- Create and edit a buddy list of people who are allowed to contact your child
- Block specific e-mail addresses
- Set up the system so that a copy is mailed to the parent of any e-mail sent or received.
ZillaDog offers upgrades to premium features, such as a safe chat room where your child can talk to her buddies.
MouseMail uses what they called "active email filtering" and scans any e-mail coming to your child for inappropriate content. If something questionable is found, the system diverts the e-mail to the parent, to look over before you approve or decline it. MouseMail features:
- Filtering software that scans emails not only for inappropriate content such as curse words, but also bullying messages.
- Parental controls for text messaging
- Parental controls that allow you to block someone from emailing or texting your child.
- Software that lets you capture an IP address of the sender of an unwanted message
One Paid Service to Consider
Although only the first 30 days are free via their trial, KidsEmail offers some additional features that you might want to consider. Since it is free to try out for a month, you can see how it stacks up to the 100% free services. In addition to the same services the other kids' e-mail providers offer, KidsEmail features include:
- The ability to approve or deny any message before your child sees it or sends it.
- Two different e-mail modes; a simple one designed for younger children and a more complex one for older kids
- Parental-controlled features that you can set to filter out anything you want it to, from hyperlinks to images
This is probably a good service if you have several children in your family and you want to keep track of their activities online from one easy location. You can get up to four e-mail accounts on KidsEmail for $4.95 per month.
Testing the Account Before Your Child Uses
Although learning how to navigate sending and receiving e-mails is a vital skill in today's high-tech world, keeping your child safe from online predators and disturbing content is equally important. It is a good idea to set up the account for your child with the provider of your choice and test it out for a bit. Try to send an e-mail from an unapproved address and see what happens. Send a test e-mail to Grandma and make sure she gets it. Spend some time browsing the site where the e-mail resides. If everything works the way you want, then you can bring you child on board into an environment that has been personally tested for safety by you.