The Lydster, Part 109: E-mail

The Daughter, who is nine, wants an e-mail account. Why? Because her friends have them. Often, when I am trying to decide what is appropriate for her, I try to remember what it was I was allowed to do when I was a child. Lessee, I got my first e-mail account when I was…forty. OK, that’s not helpful.

I asked my friends with children. They let their kids have e-mail anywhere from eight and eleven, but they knew they would have no expectation of privacy. The kids ask, but tend to not even use them that often; some would rather text, which my daughter does not currently have access to.

I am inclined to say yes – it would cost us any money – but The Wife was resistant. She suggested that The Daughter could use The Wife’s e-mail; I think that is a TERRIBLE idea. My bride has hundreds of unread e-mails at any given time. How would either of them find the items of her own? I suspect this whole exploration is that good and natural desire for her to become her own person. That said, I’m willing to monitor her e-mails, probably just to her school mates and relatives.

Thought I would ask y’all your opinion on this issue: when did your kids get their own e-mails?
In other news, she still misses us. She had two child watchers in two evenings last week, and she said she was fine with it, both before and after the fact. But when we asked if we could get another child watcher this week so we could use the symphony tickets we were given, she said “No, it’s too soon.” So Papa will stay home and let Mama and her friend use the tickets.

6 thoughts on “The Lydster, Part 109: E-mail”

  1. Glad to hear she still likes you. Guess you’re doing okay as a parent.

    Email appears to be too slow and clunky for young kids, like you said, they prefer to text. Most people I know under the age of forty use email for formal occasions, the way one used to write letters with pen and paper. For most written communication they prefer to text. Old guys like me prefer to email, but I often find that I’m sending emails to people who are texting on their personal devices.

    I know a lot of parents who early on insist that their kids carry phones, the reason being that the parents can keep track of them instantly either by voice or by text. That brings up all kinds of problems with cost. But some of the parents I talk too are adamant on this issue, they insist their kids carry the phones at all times so they can keep checking on their kids throughout the day. Yes it’s a privilege, but it’s also a ball and chain. (Which is why I don’t carry a phone! The world can wait for me to return their messages.)


  2. I would say she’s too young and doesn’t need e-mail, but I don’t know your situation, so there’s that. Obviously, Norah is only 7, so we haven’t gotten her e-mail or a phone yet, and I’m going to resist for as long as I can!!!! I can’t even think of a reason why a kid under the age of about 15 would need e-mail or a phone, frankly. But then, I’m a cantankerous old man.


  3. I have nephews, but neither are interested in email.

    If you have the password, what’s the harm of a Gmail account? The big issue is spam and predators, but if you have to let her in I can’t see that being a problem. It also might be good for her to sign up for newsletters that interest her, like NASA photo of the day. Also, she loves your blog – with a Gmail account she could set up her own and get some practice writing.


  4. As long as she has no expectation of privacy, I think you could give her a trial run with her own email account. Especially since it wouldn’t cost anything to go through hotmail, google or yahoo. Spam filters can be set high to avoid unwanted emails. Children at her age are not usually responsible enough to keep track of a phone, so this might be a good alternative to help her feel like part of the “in” group. There’s a good chance she’ll opt to call her friends once the newness wears off. Ours had their own email address about age 12, but it was only because we really didn’t embrace this method of communication much 15 years ago!


  5. Roger, just got back from the conference and glad I can “weigh in.”

    If a lot of her friends are on email, as Riley’s were, then here is how I set it up for Riley. Hope it helps.

    1. Computer has a passcode which only you know to access anything. She has to have permission to go on.
    2. She has to have no expectation of privacy. YOU have her password. Just check in every few days, and make sure you check both her spam and her trash. Some kids read things and think putting them in the trash makes them “go away.”
    3. NO cell phone or smart phone. That’s like giving her keys to a race car, and she’s nowhere near the age (our age was 16 for a “dumb phone,” no pictures allowed) to handle the possibilities.
    4. Help her set up her Facebook acct, because she’ll want one. Talk to her about WHY you don’t put in your exact birthday, especially the right year… come to think of it, I don’t think they allow you to go on Facebook until a certain age.
    5. Explain that trust must be earned and that trying to pull a fast one will have consequences. Remind her you are putting the trust in her court by allowing her to have email, that swearing online will have consequences, and that you need to know who her friends are online.

    If she complains, do what I did: Tell her to tell her friends her folks are old-fashioned. Better safe than sorry. This is about the ONLY part of my life in which I ever showed conservative tendencies – when it concerned Riley and her safety!!

    That’s my take on it. Let us know how it turned out. Sorry to sound bossy. In the praise band they call me “Amy Pants”! Peace, Amy


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