My 8-Year-Old Has an Email Account & It Scares Me

Mom Moment 18

kid laptopJust after my son turned 8, he asked me one of those questions that strike terror in a parent's heart: "Can I have my own email account?" Can you what?!? An email account? Sure! Let's make you more accessible to online predators, shall we? Great idea!

That was my first reaction. But then he told me he wanted an account so he could email his friend, who already had his own account. And his other friend, who also has her own account. And his other, other friend, who is younger but already has an email account. And I started to wonder if maybe I was just a little bit out of step with modern life. Other parents seem a whole lot more relaxed about kids and email.

Rebecca Eckler in Mommyish says she got her daughter an email account when she was just 6 weeks old! Okay, it was Eckler herself who used it to give her family updates. And she dropped it after a couple of weeks. But then when her daughter was 9, she set her up with her own Gmail account, and now her daughter emails her family regularly.

I did end up getting my son an email account. I have his password and can check up on it to make sure it's secure and there's nothing creepy going on. I tried to set it up so that all of his incoming and outgoing emails get forwarded to my email account, but of course I screwed that up. Now it's just my emails to him that get forwarded to my email account, which is totally unnecessary. I don't know what I'm doing. SIGH.

Anyway, he just emails his friends, mostly to tell them how he's doing in Minecraft. Oh yeah, Minecraft. This is another scary bit of the Internet my son has been exploring -- apparently you can play with other people on the same server, or something?

I don't know! I'm kind of out of my depth already, and maybe that's what worries me most. My son is turning into that SNL "Company Computer Guy" who seems to know more about how to work my iPhone and laptop than I do. When did that happen?

When I stop worrying and try to love the computer geek, I realize two things. One, I need to try harder to keep up with technology. And two, this is just another reminder of the many ways parents must relinquish control over their kids, little by little. It's called independence, and it's something we're supposed to want for our kids. But we have to balance that with guidance and some supervision. So now, I think, it's about teaching my son good netiquette and security. Which he probably already knows better than I do. But going through the motions of showing him that I care will still matter to him. Right?

Here's some Internet safety tips for families.

How old do you think kids should be before they have their own email account?

 

Image via Jim Sneddon/Flickr

books & media, independence, internet, safety

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nonmember avatar Amber

I don't think a child should have one before the age of 13 at the very least and is mature enough.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

My daughter needed one for girl scout sales but she doesnt know about it. She is almost 7 and a half. I dont intend to let her use it regularly till we have a computer set up for the kids to use. That will be a couple years at least maybe longer. Kids and internet dont mix imo.

nonmember avatar TheSimpleTruth

I don't personally think an e-mail address at that age is too bad. As long as you let your kid know you will be monitoring it. It's facebook at a young age that freaks me out.

nonmember avatar Molly

I received the one I turned six years old, along with typing lessons. Nothing negative ever came of it.

bubba258 bubba258

I don't think kids under 13 should be using computers at all, and I also think tv should be limited and strictly monitored. My younger kids 7 & 5 get an hour of tv sometimes, like 3 times a week. They don't use a computer, or any type of screen. They play outdoors, lego, paint, draw, cut, glue, paste, build forts, etc. The older one 15 n I will watch a bit of tv after the little ones are in bed, she has a laptop that age is not allowed to use in her room. The eldest, 24 & 20 can make their own decisions and are usually too busy with work, study and sport to stare at a screen.

Karen Morrison Gross

just make sure that it is a secure email that he cant get on chat or anything like that As too many strangers on the web ......

Elizabeth E. Fulmer

My son was young.I don't remember how old,cause he was the one who taught me about computers .I trusted him.I set values in his' life and he has never let me down.He is !9 and we still have a very close relationship.

Jai Hutto

My son is 10 years old and he has his own yahoo email and has for about 2 years now. He plays a lot of games online (like hotwheels, monkey quest, poptropica) He would come to me every five seconds and ask me if he could use my email to sign up for these games and my email accout became overloaded with emails about special offers and such from the games...it was really a pain in the butt! It is a secured account and I have his password. And the only people he has ever emailed are me, his father and his grandparents.

Susie Vaughan Baker

My daughter has one since she has a facebook account. she had to have one She's 12 years old and has had onne since she's been 10 but I monitor her and her friends are either from school or people I know. She originally only got on facebook cause she liked to play all the games. I even got her her very own laptop. She now knows more about computers than I do cause now that shes in 6th grade, she has computer class., I have her account info and monitor her very closely....


 

Angie Howard

I just recently caved and let my oldest (12) have one. He doesn't not have a facebook account though. I let my children play on the computer, but try to make sure it is always on a secured site and that it is at least educational. 

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