Earlier this month, I heard those dreaded words, “mom, can I have my own email, so that I can talk to my friends?” My response was not initially favorable, as my mind flashed to images of the kind of spam that continues to clog my own email. My son is just shy of seven years-old, so I wasn’t sure if he would be ready to take on the kind of phishing that could leave him scarred for life. On the other hand, there are some opportunities to increase spelling and grammar skills, and not to mention, today’s ever-important computer skills.
During my research, I stumbled upon several sites that offer free email options for youngsters, and even some social media sites designed just for kids. However, for the sake of my sanity and my son’s young eyes, I opted for just the free email. One kid-centric email service that stood out among the others was, Zilladog. The main site features monthly subscription plans that include access to games, music or networking. However, it was the parental controls on their email subscription service, Zillamail, that won me over.
The initial account creation is not any different from Yahoo or Gmail. What set ZillaMail apart was the option to create a list of people that your child is ONLY allowed to send and receive email. This layer of security tackles two fears for parents. 1. That your child will not get inappropriate spam and 2. That some child predator posing as a 10 year-old peer is not planning to ride bikes with your child that afternoon.
But if that level of security is not enough, ZillaMail allows parents to set up your child’s account so that all correspondence has to be first approved by mom or dad. Additionally, content such as phone numbers or addresses can be snagged as well. After just one week of using ZillaMail, the filters appear to be working. That being said, I still keep any computers with internet access out of my child’s bedroom and in a central location in the house.
A basic ZillaMail account is free for all users. A Premium account with additional features is available for $1.99 for a month or $19.95 for a year. For more information visit ZillaMail.
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