27 answers

What age is appropriate for your kid to have his own email account

My son is 8 in 2nd grade. He wants his own email account. He wants to be able to email his grandparents and us (his mom & dad). He's very responsible and we have all kinds of filters on his internet useage, he has his own login, and we as have the computer in the family room. He doesn't go to new sites without asking first. He likes to IM one grandparent and does occassionally using mom or dad's IM account, but wants to be able to do it from his own login. On one hand I think why not, on the other I think he doesn't need it. I think if I give in, it won't be a big deal - it'll lose its novelty fast. But I also don't have any really compelling reasons to him why he can't other than I don't think he's old enough. Looking for other parental feedback. Is there good kid email service - not AOL, Hotmail etc?

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Different parents have different opinions and preferences, look at the article for more ideas.

Featured Answers

My nine-year-old has a gmail account that she only accesses with her dad. It's a great middle ground and she barely uses it!

If he wants to email his grandparents and you -- how cute! -- give him the email. I can't think of anything dangerous that can happen with an email -- it's just a new form of letter-writing.

Hey! i have an idea...have him sit down with pen and paper a write a real letter. Grandma and Grandpa would really appreciate it. What happened to pen pals? =)

More Answers

I have taught instructional technology and am a fan of digital media as a learning tool as children mature. I am a mom first and think that giving him this access is borrowing trouble that he is not ready for and it is a akin to sending him into the city alone even if he knows the rules and promises to stay out of harm's way, he is a little boy.
The fact that you are asking is huge
I think supervised time with you is fine but not his own access. Too dangerous.
Also, I think you might want to check out Kim Commando. She has a radio show and website. She is a tech guru and also shares what she limits with her 8 year old due to the dangers.There are serious dangers out there.

Internet use can become an avoidant behavior. Avoid people, peers, work, interacting..because there is so much. Not a great habit to develop young.

One positive use of technology is using it together and constructing his own media. Give him a camera and a video recorder. Let him tell stories. Reports. Digitize. Edit. He is still on the computer but driving his own ideas and very on purpose. He will learn editing skills, organization and can research topics. Supervised.

Remember, these kids are learning more tech than we ever did and they are missing out on a lot of nature and problem solving time. He is also learning cursive right now correct? So much debate around handwriting verses keyboards. Letters to family is a great chance to practice writing..cool paper and pens...include photos he prints from his digital camera, drawings. practice true writing skills.

His window of childhood is rapidly closing..of course for a wonderful life ahead but I encourage all parents to keep it as long as they can. I have a child who is 6.5 who has learning disabilities and is super bright and has been assessed for assistive technology.
We both agreed that giving him time to use other tools is ideal before keyboard. He hops on my computer when I am in the room and is using the finger pad, asking for mazes and puzzles, games but I am with him. I limit it to 20 minutes a couple times a month but will let him use with me more as he ages. I hope this one opinion helps

1 mom found this helpful


Our kids cousins all live out of the country. This topic recently came up for us. We found pikluk and absolutely love it. No one can send them an email that is not in the address book. It has it's own browser too. They can only go to sites you program.
Good luck!

You can always set up a POP account / forward all emails to your account so you can see who and what your child is emailing. IM accounts, you can archive conversations to also see who and what your child is doing. For posting photos, Shutterfly.com is nice because you can password protect your photos.

Definitely there need to be parameters set up regarding internet usage - contact with unknown persons, giving out personal information, posting photos, etc.

I didn't get a chance to read all the replies - sorry if this is a repeat.
My kids have "their" account - so that they can get mail that is especially for them. However, they log on with the help of Mom and Dad. When old enough, I plan to let them log in on their own, in a common area of the house, but I plan to access the account, or check as they do it, regularly. That way, they get their independence, but I keep my responsibility of "keeping them safe". My son just turned 6, but my husband and I have already started discussing the dangers of the internet. He has already learned about "stranger danger" both at home and in preschool. Now he's in elementary school, with kids who have phones and text messaging already - it's never too early to start teaching them responsibility. My daughter is 4, so we haven't gotten to the internet part with her yet.

My cousin was the same age when she wanted an e-mail account. what my aunt and uncle did was set up a family account that they all could use. My cousin uses it the most but my aunt also uses it to send pictures, cards and e-vites.

I personally think that he is too young. My oldest daughter is 12 and does not have her own email account. Our old youth pastor said that one thing he recommends is to have a family email. That way you are setting the example of having no secrets and you are not hiding anything. It gives your kids a huge sense of trust to know that their parents are not hiding anything from them when it comes to the computer. Of course if you use your email for a lot of work stuff, that would be differant. Just last week my 12 year old had to send her classmate an email for a class project, that was her first time. My middle daughter is almost 9 in third grade and has not even given it a thought. In my opinion our kids are growing up too fast and doing way too many adult things. Just my opinion.

In a loving, supervised environment I think that would be fine. You just have to stay on top of it (making sure he isn't going out to sites he shouldn't be or doing anything you would not approve of) Email to grandparents is very sweet and cool for him at this age. I would just be careful of staying on top of it. Thats my opinion.

the only thing that worries me is all of the unsolicited advertising that comes to e-mail accounts - junk male and sex site stuff. It's disgusting! So, I think I might be okay with it but I would go to his e-mail each day and delete all the unwanted garbage and give him a list of those e-mails that he may open such as the ones from grandparents. Let him know, that he is not to open any e-mails from anyone other than what is on your list. A lot of times people send viruses through e-mails, so you need to be sure he's not opening an e-mail that might crash your system. You will be able to check his sent mail and his trash bin so you'll know who's he's communicating with. I think as long as you stay on top of it, it should be okay but it will require a time investment on your part.

At our school, the third graders, most of them are 9, receive email accounts AFTER they have mastered typing. I don't recall how many words per minute they have to type.

My daughter is 8 and in 2nd grade (one of the younger ones) and she wants an email account, but we have said no. If there is some she wants to email, she can use one of our accounts.


Greetings T.: As the mother of 5, and the Grandmotherof 5 plus the foster children I have raised and their children. I have to say that Please be careful with the computer. I think it is wonderful that your child WANTS his own e - mail but he does not need it. I did not let my own childen have private e-mail or even facebook until they were 14 and then it was subject to parental review without notice. Having family in law enforcement I have learned from their experiances that privacy at an early age means what do they have to look forward to as they get older and more importantly the trouble they can get forced into without even knowing it. As a parent and as a Grandparent, I see how our little ones want to grow up so fast but you don't have to be their friend as much as the loving parent that keeps boundries that are safe for them.
He can send his messages to his loved ones and have his special relationships that will grow with time with the family emal system. We have come along way from just my getting calls all day from being on so many speed dials. No Grandparent is not going to treasure the notes and messages from their special Grandchild. Enjoy the great adventure of parenthood, Nana G

We signed our 7 y.o. daughter up for a yahoo IM account so she could IM with me (I travel for work), her dad and her cousin. It has been a great way for her to be more comfortable about me travelling and for us to communicate throughout the day about her day, at times when I would not be able to step away from a meeting and take a phone call.

It was interesting to me that yahoo required us to pay 50cents with a credit card to prove that an adult signed her up. I can't remember what they were, but there are several types of protection, something like others can't add her, she has to request to add them first, and her account is tied to ours. She also has an email account that she uses to email aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and a few friends. I know we need to protect our kids, but I think that they are part of a new generation where this kind of communication has already replaced talking on the phone and we need to let them be part of that (with appropriate controls). (Anybody else read Tamara Erickson's book "Plugged In" about Gen Ys in the workforce. Fascinating discussion about how expectations of communications and channels have changed.)

I think eight is too young, and I think you should chase him outside to play, instead. My kids got on the internet early, and before I knew it they knew how to circumvent AOL's filters, and most other parental supervision filters as well. If he wants to email his grandparents, let him use your account.

Now I am dealing with my boys spending just too much time on line, and when they're not on MySpace or Facebook they want to play video games on the computer. I tried to supervise their choice of video games, but they always found friends whose parents thought playing "Grand Theft Auto" was a great way for boys to spend time. It can't be helped now, but I wish I had been a little stricter about computer use. Good luck.

Try zoobah.com, its about $1 a month but it gives you as the parent all the control of which emails your son can receive, you have a password that can allow only certain email addresses to the account he can view, my son loves to send his own personal emails to his grandparents, even some to me and his dad which is cute. Hope this helps.

I have two girls, one in 3rd grade and one in 1st grade and I have told both of them that we won't even discuss it until they get to middle school - until then, the subject is off the table. When my oldest starts middle school we will decide then if she is ready - if not we will wait more.

Just my two cents, lol

Good Luck

Hi, I was just talking to a friend the other day and asked him why he doesn't give his daughter who is 12 her own email. His response was that if he did she could change the password on him and then he wouldn't be able to see what's she's been doing and who she's talking to.
Hope this helps.

i think it is fine i mean the kid should also have a life and he seems responsible and gmail is good you can chat on it

Hi T.,

I am a mom who is not against a child using the computer in anyway. Even email.

I just simply moved our computer in our kitchen/desk area, so the computer was always able to be seen by ME!

My oldest is now 12, and I always know what he's doing, or who he's talking to. I am hoping this prevents the curiosity of wanting to look up other things on the internet.

We, too, have certain "blocks", but I don't think it prevents from everything. Kids are so smart, they can find it they want to.

Anyway, I think it's OK for your son to use email, and what a great way to improve his typing skills naturally, as well as keeping in touch with his family.

~N. :O)

I think reading and typing email is a great thing.... a lot of 8 yr olds cant even read yet. I think the best way to monitor it is for you to go ahead and give him an email address but only YOU know the password. You sign on for him and let him do his thing, this way you can monitor what he does and check up on him, he's just a baby, only 8, doesnt need to be getting crazy spam mail and stuff when you arent around and not realizing he's gotten online.
As with any ADDICTIVE behavior you must monitor him and keep his online time at a moderate level. Moderation is key.

Kids grow up so fast these days - I dont think am 8 yr old needs his own email account -- let him use yours, with supervision to send emails.,,......it is absolutely crucial that parents know who their children are connecting with and what they are saying on the computer. I wouldn't get him his own until he is at least 10-11, after he knows a little bit about being responsibile with it.

Dear T.,
8 seems kind of young to really need a personal e-mail account (I can't remember when I let my son have one - he's 13), but if your son is responsible and wants to e-mail grandparents and mom and dad, I say, why not?
I would just make it a rule that you have to know his password and it has to be written down either in your address book or wherever you keep such things. And, just tell him he's not allowed to change his password. Yahoo is free and really easy to navigate. My son has had the same password for years. There really is no need to ever change it.
My son is really responsible as well and even at 13, he still asks my permission before giving a friend or classmate his e-mail address. We've never had any problems. Well, there's one thing and I wouldn't really call it a problem. I cannot stand that shorthand lingo, you know what I mean...typing a 2 instead of spelling out the word. I've really been a stickler about that. I've relaxed a bit when it comes to e-mailing or IM-ing his friends, but when he's communicating with me, aunts/uncles/other adults, I insist that he use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. That's my rule and he thinks I'm too strict sometimes, but he does know the difference between to, two and too and gets excellent grades when it comes to those things. That's completely another matter....
I've never regretted letting him have his own e-mail address.

Best of wishes!

Hi T., there are several parental softwares that you can purchase to block all the unwanted things from your computer. We use Yahoo for our email, and rarely do we get anything inapropriate. My daughter, who is much older, uses gmail. She says she never gets any kind of junk. Due to your sons age, my suggestion is, that you should always have access to your son's computer. You should know all of his passwords etc...good luck

Hotmail gets so much spam ALOT OF NASTY STUFF. I would go with yahoo if you do it. My daughter is 14 and our requirement was that we have her logins and passwords so we can monitor it. Bsd people have ways of making things enticing for youngsters. At 8 it will be hard not to click on those things that say you get something for free so you have to firm that it is strictly for parents grandparents etc at this time until he is at least 12. Facebook would be fun for him cause he can post pics for grandparents to see and them as well. You can chat on there and post comments. I like it far more than email.

If he wants to email his grandparents and you -- how cute! -- give him the email. I can't think of anything dangerous that can happen with an email -- it's just a new form of letter-writing.

There are some good responses so far. Here is my thoughts: when you do decide to give him his own email (or cell phone for that matter), sit down with him and discuss the responsibility. With the new email account, he gets extra chores. And, have a written agreement with him that lists the consequences of his abusing the email, the computer access, the time limit etc. Both of you sign it. It will re-enforce the seriousness of this new priviledge and your trust in him. Also, if he makes a mistake, you have proof of what you both agreed on. By treating him with respect, he will learn respect and responsibility. Good luck.

Hey! i have an idea...have him sit down with pen and paper a write a real letter. Grandma and Grandpa would really appreciate it. What happened to pen pals? =)


If you feel your son is responsible, why not.

I am wondering why you are against AOL. I had AOL when my daughter was leaving at home and the only reason I let my daughter have her own AOL account is because they had parental control. I was able to control what time and th days of the week she was allowed on the computer. I gave her a time limit during school nights of 2 hours she would be allowed on the computer. We usually did not get home until 6pm and I as a parent set the time for her to be allowed on from 6 pm-9 pm. She could not get on until she finished her homework, if she finished at 8:30pm she only had a 1/2 hour and the AOL would turn off at 9pm but it always gave her a plenty of warning before it will click off. On the weekends I extended it from 9am to 9pm for her to be on but I still only allowed 2 hours. So she could pick anytime to be on the computer but it will shut her off at 2 hours. She could also break up the day 1 hour in the a.m. and hour in the p.m. The good thing is after a combined 2 hours that was it.

AOL also allowed me to check boxes like she could not receive any attachments of any kind and it blocked a lot of sites that was not appropriate for her age.

There is also computer software that has parental controls and since you ruled out AOL, you should google "parental control software".

You have to set limits. I have a lot of nieces and nephews that live far away and they are your sons age and older and it is nice emailing them to find out how they are doing in school.

Good luck

My nine-year-old has a gmail account that she only accesses with her dad. It's a great middle ground and she barely uses it!

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