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Keep Kids Safe Using E-Mail

Keeping Kids Safe Using E-mail

Adults and kids use e-mail to communicate rapidly and cost-effectively with people all over the world. E-mail transmits messages, documents, and photographs to others in a matter of seconds or minutes.

Potential Risks 

  • Kids are able to set up private accounts through Web-based, e-mail services without asking permission from parents.
  • Anyone using e-mail is vulnerable to receiving "spam," messages from people or companies encouraging recipients to buy something, do something, or visit a particular website. Spam may be sexually suggestive or offensive in other ways.
  • Senders sometimes disguise themselves, pretending to be someone else - a friend or acquaintance, a well-known bank, a government agency - for illicit purposes. This is known as phishing.

Tips to Minimize Potential Risks

  • Talk with your kids about their e-mail accounts, and discuss the potential risks involved. Remind them never to share passwords with anyone but you, not even their closet friends.
  • Before you sign up with a service provider, research the effectiveness of its spam filters. You may also purchase spam-filter software separately.
  • Teach kids no to open spam or e-mail from people they don't know in person. Remind them not to respond to any online communication in a sexually provocative way. Ask them to show you suspicious communication.
  • If your kids receive e-mail containing threats or material making them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, report it to your service provider. Your provider's address is usually found on their home page.