E-mail offers children a powerful tool for communicating with the outside world, including strangers. Fortunately, many Internet parental control packages offer management of e-mail as a feature. However, the effectiveness of e-mail parental controls varies widely, so if managing e-mail is important to you, pay close attention when selecting an Internet parental controls package. Important issues to consider when selecting a product:
- Filtering of e-mail based on words is generally ineffective, so you need to decide if you want to block e-mail entirely or rely on monitoring e-mail.
- To be truly effective, a product must be able to manage both POP3/SMTP e-mail (such as Outlook), as well as web-based e-mail.
Ages up to 7: Children this age generally don’t need e-mail.
Ages 8 to 10: A dedicated e-mail account with “white list” contact management.
Ages 11 to 13: A dedicated e-mail account with “white list” contact management, along with monitoring.
Ages 14 to 17: Monitoring as appropriate.