Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Email or Not to Email that has been our question.....

I love that my girls now have email.  I struggled with the decision to allow them access to this communication tool.  They are young.  I do not want my girls reading chain emails carelessly sent by children that sometimes contain scary content or that spread gossip or give the false idea that if you just send it to ten more people something wonderful (or if you don’t something terrible) will happen to you.  I asked Grace to read a book about internet safety and present me with a five-paragraph essay of her findings.  Still, I declined.  
My fears were:

  • Access to things that are not age-appropriate
  • Would this limit true communication skills?  Can’t you just pick up the phone anymore?
  • Am I feeding into a technology-obsession?
  • Will it enhance life or distract from it?
When we discovered the fabulousness of online classes, I realized that by logging on under my email, my name will come up as the class participant, not theirs.  So I reversed my decision and allowed the girls to have their own email account, which I set up and therefore, have total access to.  The girls know that I am not “invading” their privacy when I check in on them.  They are so open with their computer usage, that I find I don’t have to check in on them.  Because we are restricting the use of email primarily to things related to their lessons, not many people outside our homeschool circle of friends and family have their email address.  
We have had interesting conversations about email:

  • Never give it to a retailer or your email address will be sold and the result will be closure of your account!
  • Never open an email from a name you do not know or recognize
  • IM is fun for some people (like her cousin) and not so much for others (like her mom) so do not stalk people via IMing!

And we have realized that adding email has enhanced our learning experience by:

  • Allowing me to forward information I think they might find interesting.
(This morning I forwarded nutritional ratings for our favorite Lara Bars.  Yesterday I forwarded them the National Geographic picture of the day.) 

  •  Giving them direct access to online classes under their sign-on names.
  • Enables them to “talk” to friends they have met around the country through blogging.
  • Teaches them internet safety in a controlled, supervised environment.
  • Enhances a love of technology.
  • Fosters a sense of independence and maturity.
How does your family approach email/facebook/computer usage?  


Theresa said...

I didn't know that about retailers! I thought they would email me promotions/coupons (like Michales).

Both of my girls have email, which I set up and have complete access to. Originally, they wrote to my mom and my best friend's girls who are their ages and live in PA. I check their email frequently (and label & delete spam), but like you I find that they tell me, "I got an email from so and so...". Lately, they have become penpals with children that we have met through our blogs, which I think is awesome.

Originally, I let them use my facebook to play farmville. But then there was arguments over who planted what and whose turn it was, so I allowed them to get their own accounts, which quickly became a mistake because 1) wacky family members and 2) they were always needing to go on. I thought I had deleted their accounts, but P recently reactivated hers. It's been an interested week, to say the least. If you know how to PERMANENTLY delete a facebook account, I would love to know how!

Three Thinking Mothers said...

You two are inspiring me to loosen up the reigns a little bit with Miss B and let her have an email account. She also needs to blog more often!

Great suggestions, Jess.

Karen said...

Kei has had an email since she was 5. The reason is I was able to get her name I told her one day she would thank me. :)

She gets email from her friends, American Girl Dolls and Broadway musicals. I check it frequently! She knows I check it. She has had a Facebook for 2 years...she has only recently shown any interest in it. I monitor that too. I make her unsearchable so she has to add someone as her friend. She also has to ask me first. The internet is AMAZING..but it is just like life..full of wonderful and horrible. I work hard to stay on top of her activity online. She hasn't disappointed me yet. When she does..we will go from there.

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