Is someone at your house begging for his or her very own email account? Maybe because "all my friends have one"? The question usually comes up before middle school, when "everybody" is getting IM accounts and cellphones too, as – developmentally – the social scene kicks into gear. As kid virtual worlds get increasingly ubiquitous, though, adding another social outlet, the pressure to get any single communications tool may ease somewhat. In fact, pretty soon kids won't even care about email addresses because it seems most teens only use email when communicating with adults (they prefer messaging via social-network sites). We'll see (nobody's researched this yet, as far as I've seen). Anyway, in case you'd like to see a bunch of other parents' views on this question, there was a lively debate (in Comments) over at Slashdot about giving kids email accounts and how (it is "news for nerds," after all, so there's some great stuff about proxy servers and technical means of spam avoidance), as well as some interesting evidence of different parenting schools of thought (don't be surprised by the one or two off-color comments, though they're much in the minority). We didn't feel rushed to get our 10-year-old one – it seemed more a necessity as we were traveling overseas, so he could keep in touch with friends independently. Now that he's 11 and we're back in the States, he hardly ever checks or uses it and, interestingly, IM seems to have been replaced by Google Chat and phone texting as the primary social tools of 6th graders. Would love to get fellow parents' views on electronic communications, kid-style – via anne[at]netfamilynews.org, or here in our forum.
NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
- Students called heroes in this 6th-grade class
- In the face of school violence, what do we default to?
- Popularity: The other kind of vulnerability
- FB & Oculus VR: The potential of a virtual-reality platform
- What’s (importantly) different about Snapchat
- We ‘like’ faces in social media: Study
- Yik Yak update: How the app came to geo-fence off US schools
- Smart safety: YouTube’s ‘neighborhood watch program’
Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
- Facebook’s ‘Nearby Friends’ feature: What you need to know
- Identity theft a problem from cradle to grave — Kids most vulnerable
- How to protect your family from Heartbleed security flaw (slideshow)
- Beware of Heartbleed inspired phishing scams
- Are sites you use vulnerable to Heartbleed security flaw?
- Microsoft ends support of Windows XP: Machines highly vulnerable to security risks
- The evolution of online safety: Lessons learned over 20 years
- Safety through mindfulness: Watch ‘The Science of Character’