Knowing which age is the right age for e-mail

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's become a rite of passage for your kids.  New hairstyles, listening to new music, getting their drivers' license.  All things you went through as a kid but there's a new twist to growing up now.  They want to know when they can get an email account.

According to the recent Kaiser Family Foundation study, kids 8 to 18 spend almost 8 hours a day connected to devices.  That's a lot of connectivity.  Then your kid asks you for their own email account, is this safe and should you let them have one?

Before you answer "yes" consider these points:

  1. How mature is your kid with communications with others when they are happy, sad or mad?  Internet email might not be a good fit for them.
  2. How old is your child?  Many email providers have minimum age requirements – you should not lie about their age to get them their own account.

If you decide to say "yes", I have 4 quick tips to keep your kids safe:

  1. ACCOUNT NAME:  Choose an email that does not identify their name, age, gender
  2. RULES:  Discuss ground rules about appropriate email communication; discuss the perils of cyberbullying, sexting, and sending pictures via email; the rule of "don't talk to strangers" also applies; teach them to be wary of clicking on links in emails
  3. ATTACHMENTS:  Tell them not to open attachments without consulting with you first.  Kids are notorious for clicking on all kinds of sites online and then sending infected attachments.
  4. REVIEW:  Tell them you will be reviewing their emails regularly and to make sure their friends know the email account will be monitored.

Web Resources to Help You Set Up Email for Your Kids:

There are many email services.  We have highlighted just a few of the free services available to you.  Make sure you check the age requirements before you sign up your kids:

1.  Hotmail lets you filter messages.  You can use their free version or can purchase a $20/year service that blocks ads.  They have a Hotmail Kids web page at:

3.  Google says children must be 13 or older.  Google has a section dedicated to kids' online and email safety:

4.  Yahoo offers a family account for kids under 13 at:

7.  Comcast launched which allows kids to play games, surf the net and send emails in a controlled place.

8.  AOL offers KOL for kids.  It's free but to prove you are an adult, you have to sign up with a credit card kowhich is charged $1 and promptly credited $1.

There are several services that you can pay for that give you some added controls with your kids' online email and other activities.  We have highlighted two of those Paid Services:

  1. Zilladog has a one time charge of $9.95. offers email and a website for kids.  You can set up the "buddy list" for your kids yourself and get copied on ALL incoming/outgoing emails.
  2. ZooBuh! or $12/year offers has an interesting twist-Your kids incoming emails go to you first, you approve them, then the kids can read them.  You can also read any sent messages.