The tempest has come home: my 11yo daughter A- has begun communicating via email with her out of state cousin. Nothing amazingly new, except we’ve kept our children off the computer completely so it is a brave new world. To date, email from the cousin is sent to Linda, who then shows it to A-, who then uses Linda’s account to compose a response or new message.
Alright, I say begrudgingly, maybe, just maybe it’s time to let her have an email account of her own, as a step towards being an autonomous young adult on the Internet.
But the Internet is a scary place, she’s 11 and used to us protecting her and shielding her from the rough edges of life. I’m concerned.
Here’s what I’ve proposed…
Here’s what I sent to Linda in response to her suggestion that we let A- have her own Gmail account. My proposed terms were:
1. We always both know her account password. I would also like to consider setting up a mail filter on her Gmail account so that any messages she receives are automatically also forwarded to both of us so we can keep an eye on things benevolently.
2. You and I define exactly when and how she can access her email, whether itâd be during school days, etc., and stick to it religiously.
3. We come up with a solution that makes it clear the younger kids (e.g. G-, our 8yo boy) are not part of this club. Maybe make it a privilege of turning 10? Or wait until A-‘s next birthday and make it a 12yo rite of passage?
The editorial comment that I included: “I want us to go into this with our eyes wide open. I read a lot about kids who make connections under their parents noses that then prove harmful, so I want us to go very, very slowly with this and ensure that we can help keep A- safe as long as possible. Iâm happy erring on the side of paranoia in this instance.”
So, blogging community and fellow parents: am I erring on the side of paranoia? Is this too much? Too little? How do you let your children – esp. younger children – have their freedom and independence while you are still able to keep a benevolent eye on them and ensure that they’re safe and not exposed to crappy spam and online weirdos?