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Is it right to read my child's email?

We strongly advocate respect for kids email privacy, especially as your children become older and more independent. For teenagers, reading an email conversation between (for example) your daughter and her close friend may be tantamount to opening her diary.

On the other hand, a surprising number of teens are seduced by the sense of anonymity that comes with IM and email. They may assume a different persona online. It is not uncommon for kids to explore sexual or taboo topics online. The worst risk of all is that your son or your daughter might naively establish communication with pedophiles and online child stalkers.

There are many reasonable circumstances in which it is appropriate and necessary for you to read your child's email. The foremost reason, in the case of young children, is so that you can make sure no lurid spam emails reach your child. In the case of older kids and teens the primary purpose is to protect a maturing child from online dangers.

Some parents also worry about teen peer influences (both offline and via IM chat or email). At times it may be necessary to actively investigate, especially if you, as a parent, sense danger. The safety of your kids has utmost importance.

We believe that KidMail.net provides an appropriate framework, sensitive to the ethical issues surrounding child privacy versus parental rights and parental obligations to protect kids. KidMail.net is unique in its support of multiple levels of trust. A parent can set absolute trust for some contacts (such as grandparents) while choosing to quarantine, and possibly review other messages (even if the sender has responded to a KidMail.net challenge message). In contrast, parental control systems on AOL, MSN Hotmail, Earthlink, etc. all have a very simplistic blocked sender & approved sender methodology that doesn't facilitate trust management.

For an enlightening public discussion of whether parents should read children's email, consider reading this ParentSoup survey.

Is it Right to Read Your Child's Email? (ParentSoup Parenting Debate)
In the past, parents' biggest fear about the Internet was having their children exposed to pornographic websites. But in light of recent high-profile Internet-predator cases, parents are becoming increasingly concerned with whom their children are corresponding with through email and instant messages. According to a study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in five children who regularly use the Internet are exposed to unwanted sexual solicitations.
The article goes on to describe how a 13-year old Pittsburgh girl was lured online and later rescued, strapped to a bed by her abductor.
Full Text (over 100 parent comments!):
http://www.parentsoup.com/debate/dilemmas/0,,272897_431441-1,00.html

All too often we learn about sexual predators within our own community who appear to be absolutely trustworthy. For example, who has not read news articles about arrests of priests, teachers, youth coaches, counselors, scouting leaders, and police officers??? It is a daily occurrence. Most sexual abuse of children is by persons known to the child. Victims are often preteen boys and girls - kids<

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