This summer, my daughter turned 11, and since I am big believer in making sure that her skill set reflects the new media world of the 21st century, I agreed to give her a cellphone and an email account.
The cellphone was easy. She could text and make calls and my provider would be able to let me know whom she calls and her text history.
As for email, that one was easy too. I gave her a GMail account. Here are my reasons:
- It’s free: In this economy, free always works for me.
- It’s mobile friendly: no matter where I am, I can access my GMail.
- It’s so simple: there is nothing complicated about GMail. Nothing.
- It’s account friendly: with all my accounts and jobs, my daughter’s email comes in from any device I am using.
Now, for those of you who think giving a 11-year-old such access to the Internet, I say that digital responsibility is just as important right now as telling your children about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and sex.
I would rather have my daughter learn how to behave responsibly on the Internet from her Papa Heroe than from the rest of the Internet. Yes, there are a lot of creeps out there, and I have my superhero obligation to fulfill.
Now, my daughter has quickly become an email and texting expert, which doesn’t surprise me, since ever since she was born in 2000, she has always been exposed to technology.
However, when I get emails from my daughter’s friends that are sent to my daughter, I am a bit shocked that most parents don’t get it. They are not talking to their own children about spam links, untrustworthy sites, and just bad email etiquette. In fact, I have already spoken to a few parents about the digital mistakes they are making with their children, and they have appreciated it.
The other I love is that I am now an observer of my daughter’s world. I see every conversation she participates in, and have already found that I can use some of those conversations to talk with my daughter. For example, one email from her friend about boyfriends led to a great discussion about dating and why she is too young to think about that, and should instead be focusing on her studies and the activities she loves: acting, singing, and dancing.
So, if you are thinking about giving your children a cellphone or an email account, start with GMail, connect that account to your own email account, and use those emails to discuss issues with your children.
Everyone wins. Your children will gain the hands-on technological skills they need to succeed in the future, and you will be closer to your children’s immediate environment.
photo credit by mattgrimm