For the past month and a half the children have been enjoying being able to have email accounts. Now, I have to admit, this was not one of the review products I was jumping up and down for, hoping beyond hope that we could review. I wasn't quite sure they really needed an email account, if you know what I mean. However, once we learned we were on the review, I was excited for them to give this a try. And over the last six weeks I have been happily surprised at all the fun the children are having, and the benefits they are receiving.
Now, let me just say, there is no way the children would have email accounts through any of the normal email providers that are out there. No way at all. The only reason the children have been afforded this opportunity is because of Kids Email, which gives them safe access with their Kids Email Safe Email For Kids, which we received a one-year subscription to.
What's so special about Kids Email? Well, let me tell you about it.
There are quite a few features that make my husband and I feel secure that our children are safely receiving and sending emails.
- Mail Monitoring
- The Mail Queue
- Contact Manager
- No Ads
- Spam Filtering
- Offensive Word Filter
- Blocking Senders (a feature we haven't had to use)
Plus there are other features that allow the parent to have control, but aren't actually a "safety" feature. Such features as:
- Grounding the child and
- Time Restrictions
The first thing I did after I set up the children's accounts was to head over to the Safety Settings.
This is where a parent can choose whether or not children only send and/or receive email from their contact list, choose to receive copies of incoming and outgoing mail, decide whether or not to allow links, photos, and/or attachments from incoming mail, and choose to censor bad language from contacts.
While in the Parental Controls, I went to Manage Contacts so I could add the email addresses of the people the children would be able to write to and receive mail from. This was as simple as adding the name and email address, and then choosing whether this contact was only for one child or for all of them.
In the Child Account Settings I could choose whether the children were set up with a standard account (which all three girls have), a very simple account (which Harold has), or a teen account with a more grown up look (which I did set up for myself just to see the difference).
I haven't had to use the "Ground Child" or "Time Restrictions" features as the children only have internet access during specified times each day. However, if I ever noticed there was any misuse going on, it is great to know these features are available.
Thanks to the Mail Monitoring feature, both my husband and I can see copies of all the emails coming in and going out. Though this can clog up our own inboxes a bit when the children are sending emails to each other for fun, it is a huge benefit to know the children can't be keeping secrets from us. Though it was a bit of an inconvenience when my oldest son contacted Tabitha and let it slip that he was planning to bring something on Mother's Day to show her, when it was supposed to be a surprise that they were coming down. Ooops.
I really appreciate the Mail Queue feature which informs the parents when an email has been sent to one of the children from someone who is not on the contact list. However, I have never actually been to that section of my parent's account as I can approve or delete the email from my own email account. The following screenshot shows what I see in my email (with the children's emails blacked out):
I love that I can approve the email and add the contact to the contact list all in one step. Then I receive the following message.
As the parent I can also check out the children's account activity in the Activity Log section of the Parental Controls. However, I haven't really paid much attention to this section as I receive an email every time they send one. And this feature actually only shows when the children log in and send emails, it doesn't show any of the incoming mail. I do recognize that this is a helpful feature for parents who opt not to get copies of their children's emails sent to them.
Okay, so now that I shared what I love about Kids Email as a parent, let's look at the features that the children enjoy.
In order to access Kids Email a child will log in from the following screen:
They are directed to their inbox, which varies a little depending upon which kind of account was set up for them.
Here is Harold's inbox, which is an example of the "Very Simple" account.
Here is Hannah's inbox, which is an example of a standard account. The girls all have this type of account. The biggest differences are that Harold doesn't have the ability to create folders or get into the contact list.
As you can see, the children have different backgrounds. This is something they can set when they click on their "Settings" tab. There are 36 different backgrounds to choose from. Here is a small sample:
They can change their background any time they feel like it.
In order to read an email, the child just needs to click on the contact's name on the left in the inbox. In order to write an email, the child can either click on "Write Email" which is found in the left sidebar, or they can hit "reply" to an email.
Additionally, they have the ability to draw pictures to send along with an email.
Clicking on the paint palette pulls up the drawing board dialog
They also love being able to attach pictures to share with their friends and family. Though it appears we can only attach one picture per email.
The older girls have also learned the benefits of using and creating folders to keep their mail organized and their inboxes uncluttered.
Here's a quick look at the difference in the teen email look. The biggest difference is that the tabs are on the top instead of the side. From what I can tell, all the other features are the same.
One of the biggest benefits they have received with Kids Email is being able to keep in contact with friends who are moving away. The children have a few friends from our homeschool co-op who are moving, some further away than others. They have also enjoyed keeping in touch with their older siblings who no longer live in the house. Additionally, they've made some new friends with fellow Crew member's children who decided they wanted some new email penpals.
They are working on communication skills along with practicing their typing skills. Which I think is just awesome!
Here is what the children had to say about Kids Email:
Tabitha said, "I like that you can email anyone you want and the parents can keep us safe. I like the fact that we made new friends. I liked learning more about them."
Amelia stated, "It makes me happy to get to email new friends and people you already know."
Hannah likes, "That we get to make new penpals."
And Harold likes, "That we can write to our family."
All in all, we are having a wonderful time with Kids Email, and we have every intention of continuing with it after our free year has expired. We definitely think the benefits are worth it for the children.
Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Kids Email.