The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews
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Kids Email FULL Year Subscription Review by Laura DelgadoRuby Web, LLC
Kids and email . . . for some families, those words just don’t belong in the same sentence – until now! KidsEmail.org will likely change the way you view your children having an email account, whether they already have one and you’re not entirely comfortable with that idea, or they have been asking for one and you have firmly rejected the idea. KidsEmail.org allows you, as the parent, to be in control of every aspect of your child’s email account, from whom he is allowed to receive email to whom he is allowed to send it. Truly, your child can experience the freedom of having his own email account while you experience the security of knowing that you can see every aspect of the activity on that account. Even better, you can control when your child has access to his email, even if you never touch his phone, Kindle, or computer.
KidsEmail.org is easy to use right from the start. A regular monthly fee of $4.95, or $58.95 for the year, gives you four email accounts (as of this writing, KidsEmail.org is running a special for $2.99 a month, or $38.95 for 13 months, for six email accounts). All you do is set up a parent account using your regular email address as your username. Once you’ve done that, you can add your children. Kids Email has two options for kids’ email addresses. For younger children, the domain is @kidsemail.org, but for older children who may be self-conscious about advertising their supervised email status, the domain kmail.org is an option. A more streamlined interface is available for older kids as well.
As indicated, Kids Email allows you to control every aspect of your child’s email experience. Here is a list of the things you can do, security-wise, with KidsEmail.org. You can choose to allow your child to send and receive emails from a set contact list only and allow or disallow your child to edit that contact list. You can also choose, as the parent, to receive a copy of every email your child sends and receives. You can customize what your child can receive within an email: you can allow or disallow images, attachments, and bad words. Further, the default (which you can disable) is to have a tagline at the bottom of any email sent from your child’s account indicating that the email was sent from a child, thus eliminating the excuse of plausible deniability for anyone who might be inclined to argue that they had no idea they were corresponding with a child. At any time you can block senders and see a log of your child’s email activity.
It doesn’t stop there, though. With KidsEmail.org, you can set the times during which you don’t want to allow your child to be on email. You can actually specify hours during which he can’t log on! Even more, you can ground him from email for a set number of hours or until a specified date. If he tries to log on, he will receive a customized message from you (something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, but you’re grounded.”). KidsEmail.org really has thought of everything. Of course, like all good email programs, you can customize the look of KidsEmail.org. You (or your child) can choose the background. There are plenty available that are good for older and younger kids, and for boys and girls.
While this program is not designed for homeschoolers, it is certainly ideal for them. Many homeschooling families homeschool partially in order to control their children’s peer group and the kind of information that filters through to them. Email is one way in which they can lose this control quickly, particularly if their children are emailing public school friends. Yet, most children long for the connection that an email address affords. Email allows kids to stay in contact with family, friends met at camp and conferences, and more. KidsEmail.org is the perfect solution for any homeschooling family that wants to strike that perfect balance of still being able to maintain some control of the influences entering the home, but allow a child some freedom and independence, especially given the fact that the child does not have to know about the controls being exerted on the account.
I have really enjoyed using KidsEmail.org. I am amazed at the amount of control a parent has over what and how her child sends (and, more importantly, receives) email. I wish that I had been aware of this email service when my kids were even younger. Even if you trust your child, and most of us do, there are so many unpredictable things that can arise regarding email, from spam that may come in after signing up for a gaming account, to sidebar advertising. All such worries are moot with KidsEmail.org.
My only suggestion would be yet another higher tier for even older teens. The teen level of “Kmail.org” is still very juvenile for more worldly homeschoolers (and I would include my children in this category). It is not something I could ever “sell” to my 15-year-old daughter who has been using the same email address since she was 7 (established by me so that she could email grandparents and other relatives and so that I could email her her assignments). Naturally, I have my daughter’s password and make routine passes through her email, but being able to use KidsEmail.org would eliminate at least a couple of those steps. I could have everything come straight to me. For kids starting on KidsEmail.org now, there will come a time when they likely find that even the teen themes look babyish. It would be great if the company could grow with the kids and evolve an even more streamlined, less “kid-ish” look and feel. My guess is that many of KidsEmail.org’s public school clientele probably switch to regular email clients at least by high school, but I can envision homeschooling families wanting to continue using this great program well into high school!
As the world becomes ever more complicated, it becomes harder and harder to keep our children safe and innocent without sheltering them to the extent that they won’t be able to function in society when they leave home. KidsEmail.org is one way that parents can let their kids spread their wings while still keeping them protected. Many families will welcome this addition to their children’s electronic lives.
—Product review by Laura Delgado, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016