Gmail for kids

If you can’t tell by now, I love Gmail. So I decded to create an account for #1. There are a number of features that make me feel safe and in control of his introduction to email, and I thought I’d share them so that others might be able to do the same with their kids.

First of all, Gmail has pretty effective spam filters, so that I almost never get any unwanted junk (for some reason, the only spam that does make it through to me anymore is investment offers). Second, Gmail by default doesn’t show pictures that are included in emails. Every time an email shows up with pictures, you have to explicitly click to “show pictures in this email” or “always show pictures from this@sender.com”. Most important of all, though, you can set up email forwarding, so that every email your kid gets will automatically be forwarded to the set of addresses you choose. Since #1’s emails get forwarded to both me and T, and we check our email a lot more frequently, we always see his email, and we can tell him when to go check for email. Of course, there is the possibility that your kid will learn enough about Gmail to tamper with those filters/change their password so you can’t get in and check up on them, etc. But by that point, the kid has the ability to create an unlimited number of free email accounts all over the web anyways!

There are two ways to do forwarding in Gmail. The direct way is to click “Settings” (upper right), then click on the “Forwarding and POP” tab. Instead of the default “Disable forwarding”, select “Forward a copy of incoming mail to ” and type in the address from which you want to monitor your kid’s mail. Leave the dropdown to it’s default “keep Gmail’s copy in the Inbox.” So that is fine for visibility for just one parent, and there is no way (that I can see) to put more than one address into that feature. There’s another way, though. Still in “Settings”, click on “Filters”, “Create a new filter”. One of the ways to filter email for special action is based on entries in the “To:” field. So just put your kid’s new Gmail account, and this filter will thus apply to every email that arrives at this Gmail account! Click “Next Step”. Check the box “Forward to address” and I think you can probably figure it out from there. Again, you can only put one email address in the box, but you can set up many filters, each of which sends to one address.

So when I told #1 that I was going to get him an email account, he asked me whether he would be able to keep it for the rest of his life. The question surprised me, not because I hadn’t already been thinking that myself, but because I don’t understand how he could have thought of that question, since he’s never had to undergo the inconvenience of changing email addresses! I had indeed chosen Gmail in the hopes that it could last his entire life (as I hope to never again change my personal email address). I can’t even conceive of a lifetime with only one (personal) email address! In the ‘old days’, I guess it was relatively common for someone to have only one street address and phone number from marriage to death. The promise of the internet was that virtualized information would be insulated against physical changes. Through the birth pangs of the internet, this promise has not been realized, but I think Gmail (and Hotmail, and Yahoo! mail, etc.) are going to stick around.

Anyways, if you (or your kids, from their new Gmail accounts!) want to welcome #1 to the internet, just let me know offline, and I’ll give you his address!

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24 Responses

  1. […] by RubeRad on January 29th, 2007 Because of the way I set up #1’s Gmail account, I was privy (and now you are too!) to the following hilarious, awkward situation my Aunt got […]

  2. How do you go about removing text ads and search boxes from Gmail for kids?

  3. RW:

    If you’re using Firefox (and really you should), you can use the CustomizeGoogle extension to remove ads.

    I’ve never seen anybody remove the search box, though I suppose it could be done with a global CSS file or Greasemonkey-injected bit of Javascript. I don’t know how to do either of those off the top of my head, but maybe the developer of CustomizeGoogle would consider adding the feature.

  4. kids should have a chance to have a gmail account

  5. yea dont fight kids should have a right

  6. hola i really want a g mail but my family think it is unsafe. but i no that they wont change there minds ovesly! so to tell u the truth i have thought and thought that they really wont no if i sign up for it and they dont no about it i geuss it would be ok. yet they clam they can check on my laptop on a different computerand see every thing that i do, but i dont think that they actually do! i think they jvfwgEGREFWYFGRHJEFGQRYGHJDSKATYKUWEHHjxhvhjuhbyjuerhfueshterwsnhcfhjuasbnfyaghsyfuhjuthe the the the the the tre the the the teh the the the tht etehthe the th e the the the the the the trhe ther cxay is is is is is is is is is isi iss it it it it it it it it it it it it it it it it it it hi hi hi hih hih hih hih hih hih hiuhh hih hih hih hih hihh hih dkj

  7. Dear anonymous: obey your parents

  8. ilovegmailsothatswyeiamdoingthis

  9. thanks olivia

  10. want to open a kids account on gmail.

  11. want to open a kids account on gmail

  12. […] Gmail for kids September 2006 16 comments 3 […]

  13. This is a brilliant chance for kids to learn how to go to things by them selfs

  14. It’s good for kids;in school to have a Gmail

  15. Well, I am a child, but i want to know how to sign up!!!

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