Email Safety for Children

As a parent, it is your responsibility to set guidelines for safe email usage for your child – both at home and while out and about. Be sure your child or teen understands that using his or her email account safely is a condition of having it, and that email is a privilege that can be taken away at any point. Be sure that everyone in your family is aware of the rules for using email safely, and emphasize that the rules will be enforced.

Tips to help your child use email safely:

* Keep personal information private: Be sure your child knows not to give out personal details. Remind them that email friends may not be who they claim to be, and that it is important that they not share information such as their phone number, address, or birth date with strangers over the internet.
* Remain anonymous: Warn your child that if someone they don’t know asks for their name in an email, they should get your permission before sharing this information.
* Keep passwords secret: Your child should understand not to share their password with anyone except you. This helps prevent their friends or acquaintances from using their email account to send out messages, as well as keeping their personal information safe from potential hackers or predators.
* Delete at will: Teach your child that it is okay to delete email from anyone that they don’t know, especially if it has an attachment. Be sure that they understand not to open attachments from unknown sources, as many viruses spread this way.
* Communicate: Explain to your child that it is important for them to tell you about anything they receive in their email account that makes them feel scared or uncomfortable. Spammers, cyberbullies, and predators all use email – be sure your child feels they can talk to you about any unsavory email they receive.
* Don’t reply to spam: Spammers send email out in the blind, not knowing if email addresses they are using are valid or not. Replying to these messages only ensures that they keep sending mail, so avoid doing so at all costs, and teach your child to do the same.

Email is an extremely useful communication tool, but can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. Teach your children the importance of email safety, and remind them how important their privacy is. If you are unsure if your child is ready to have their own email account, you can always try sharing a family account as a trial. If things go well, then you can allow them to move up to their own account, to which you have the username and password. While your child or teen may protest, bear in mind that you are the only thing that stands between them and internet predators. This makes enforcing safety rules all the more important.

Have a great day!