Introducing your kids to email

Digital Citizenship

By Carissa Swenson

CarissaSwenson-smallEmail is an important communication method, with adults using it daily at work, in school and for personal needs. However, with so many ways to communicate, many children are drawn to interact through Facebook, Twitter and text messaging. It’s therefore important that we teach our children the value of email as a form of correspondence.

Consider the following guidelines for introducing your young one to email.

  • Contact your local telecommunications provider and ask them to set up a new email account for your child.
  • Talk to your child about how beneficial email can be for the future, and the importance of using it right now. They can use it for sharing ideas and tips, asking questions, assigning tasks to family members and even sending funny jokes.
  • Email your child a few times each week. Ask them about their ideas for weekend activities, send links to educational websites or even mention a recipe that you want to make together.
  • In the evening, open the emails together and demonstrate how the content is beneficial and sometimes couldn’t be shared through another method.
  • Try to foster an understanding that not all communication has to be done through social media, and that email will be an important part of their life in the years ahead.

Email is a great tool, but it also presents its own set of hazards. The benefits of educating your child about email outweigh the challenges, as long as you teach them these important guidelines:

  • Only open and reply to email from people you know.
  • If you receive an email from a company or a bank asking for information, never reply (and your child should inform you about this email as soon as possible).
  • Never share sensitive information, such as date of birth, social security number, physical address or passwords in an email.
  • Never open email attachments unless you are absolutely certain they are from a known source.

Put these tips to work and start teaching your child how to properly use email. It’s an important part of becoming a good digital citizen.

Carissa Swenson is the owner and technology specialist of TechTECS, a technology training, education, consulting and support company.