As we get further and further addicted to technology, our children are often coming along for the ride. I know very few 4-year-olds whose parents who have an iPhone who cannot already use their tiny fingers to manipulate and navigate the screen. My daughter has been using my iPhone adeptly since she was 2 and now her almost 3-year-old brother is doing the same.
My daughter also plays computer games and is able to type, and I am supportive of most of these things, but when it comes to email, I have to draw the line. Recently Miss Manners was asked about a 4-year-old who was learning to read and write and who had an email account. What seemed like a benign question about manners and not wanting to receive email from a 4-year-old was actually a bit more complicated.
Should a 4-year-old have an email address at all?
In a word: No. A 4-year-old should be reading and playing and practicing writing their letters by hand. I wrote a check the other day and felt that I had nearly forgotten how to use a pen because I spend so much time on the computer. It's imperative that children still get these skills, so why the rush to typing?
Personally, I am thrilled by my daughter learning to write and less thrilled by her learning to type. It seems like she needs both. So, yes, a 4-year-old is too young to be emailing.
I could see having a highly monitored email account for her when she is 6 or 7. Maybe. But at 4, she is still learning the basics. She will likely spend the great majority of her life in front of a computer (unless she has some other kind of job), so I am in no hurry to shove her in front of one any time soon.
Once she has the basics of reading and writing down and has people she wants to email, maybe even a friend or two who has one of their own, we can revisit it. Until then, if you want to talk to my daughter, call me or email me. I will make sure she sees it!
Do you think a 4-year-old is too young to email?