How Young is Too Young?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 | 4 comments »

This little 5 year-old wonder wants his own email address so he can email grandma and grandpa. My initial thought was no, he's too young. However, the more I thought about it, I don't see it as a problem......IF.

Earlier today, I posted this same question to my PLN on Plurk and below are the responses.

I was a little surprised at the responses. I would have assumed the responses would have been more "favorable." Perhaps some assumptions I had in mind were not taken into consideration by others. When setting up his account, I was planning on doing the following:

1. Using my local provider for his account - not Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.
2. His user account on our Mac already is restricted using Parental Controls, so those would still be in place for this email account.
3. He would only be allowed to read and write emails with supervision.
4. He would only be allowed to send email to approved addresses, something that can be set up using Parental Controls.
5. A discussion would take place with him regarding entering his email anywhere or even giving it out to people.
6. Obviously, if any of these "rules" are broken, the account could be deleted.

With all of this in place, I can't think of a reason I should NOT go ahead with this. He's interested in this, which would certainly improve not only his reading and writing skills, but also his knowledge of a communication tool that is as common these days as the phone is. Am I missing something?


  1. I am a Tech Teacher // December 10, 2008 at 8:12 PM  

    No, you aren't missing anything. My kids have been on the computer (and the internet) since they were old enough to sit up. I have a 10 year old and a 13 year old. I personally believe the best way to teach them is to let them use the tools. Especially when they will still listen to you! The computers (yes, more than 1) live on the 1st floor. No internet in the bedrooms. Teach him about it now, it won't be such a treat when he gets older.

  2. Mrs. LaChance // December 10, 2008 at 8:22 PM  

    I totally agree. As my daughter gets older, I'm realizing that she will be listening to what I say NOW more than she probably ever will. Just like we wouldn't want to take away the options from students, we don't want to take it away from our children. If you teach them early, they'll understand the need to follow internet safety rules. You, as the parent, need to establish the rules and boundaries-now.
    I have a friend that refuses to give her son a ball and bat because he might "hurt himself". He's five. If he doesn't have one now, he'll never know how to use it in a way that he WON'T hurt himself. In today's world, could this situation be viewed in the same way?

  3. Jefferson Saints // December 12, 2008 at 1:12 PM  

    Agreed. Good discussion. There may never be a time when you will be able to provide as much direct guidance as you can with a child this age. If children interested and engaged, this COULD BE the perfect opportunity to provide life lessons and give them the opportunity to express themselves, build relationships with people they don't see everyday, and improve their language and typing skills. Of course, everything that they do would need to be monitored in a foolproof way by you to ensure their safety. I would be interested in exploring the Gmail option mentioned more fully. Might be trickier since it is browser-based, but still possible with a site filter (???) BTW, I am the father of a 5 year old girl who is all about communication - no she doesn't use email yet, but this may spur something. (Yes, will make sure she has a healthy balance of non-tech activities. Her crafty stay-at-home mom ensures that.) Thanks for the forum.

  4. IMC Guy // December 15, 2008 at 9:32 PM  

    Thanks for the thoughts. His email is up and running and he's limited to emailing his parents, grandparents, and uncle. So far, he's written 3 emails, received two back, and responded to one of those. He's loving it so far.

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