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Kid Safe Mail®

Thursday 19 March 2009

A computer literate, knowledge-hungry and sociable nine-year-old – naturally he wants online access and his own email.

It’s like learning to cross the road, i tell him. Nothing to do with how bright you are, if you’ve never heard of juggernauts you won’t be watching out for them when you step off the kerb. That’s why, when you’re little, you start with the Green Cross Code and Mummy holding your hand.

The internet’s the same. Doesn’t matter how much sense you possess, you have no idea what’s out there to get you.

So far this way of presenting it has given us a child who is not too resistant to being sensible online, is being very open with us about which sites he’s visiting, and is asking before clicking through any links. Even if that means waiting while i get off the phone. (Wow. This is the same child who is totally blasé about road safety on actual roads, as well as heights, things that burn, things that cut bits off you, people that steal you, all the rest. I don’t dub him Tigger for no reason.)

A friend introduced us to Kid Safe Mail®. I’m spreading the word.

From Tigger’s point of view:

  • He gets webmail with all the usual trimmings, including filters to deflect incoming mails into folders according to criteria such as who they’re from.
  • He can see pictures that friends and family send him.
  • Plus a Links page of sites designated safe – most of which are educational
  • And a Games page (not terribly stimulating but some are fun) and a Jokes page where he can add to the list of kids’ jokes.

From my point of view, for $4 a month (or nine months for the price of twelve), i get peace of mind.

Do i sound like an ad? It’s just that so far i can’t fault Kid Safe Mail®. The website declares you have, as parents, total control over spam, viruses and inappropriate content (a phrase of many definitions).

  • You choose exactly whose emails your child can see, with separate lists of approved addresses for incoming and outgoing mail. For instance, you could specify that he can send to his cousin, but not receive from that address if you’re not sure what the cousin may send back.
  • You choose in how much detail to be kept informed. Blind copies can go to one or two people (two parents, or home and work, say), of all emails sent and received, or all that are blocked, or any combination of those.
  • They claim ‘100% spam and virus free’. That’s a big, bold claim, but they’re confident to make it.
  • They use the same security protocols as businesses use to take credit card information (a 128 bit encryption SSL certificate).
  • My favourite option (it appeals to my sense of humour) is: I want all profanity replaced with the word BEEP.

The only thing you can’t choose is the ‘safe’ websites. You can’t add to that list, or remove sites from it (though i daresay they’d listen if you suggested another to add). That’s why i’d give Kid Safe Mail® 9 out of 10, and not 10.

Features, a user-friendly website, reasonable prices – that’s one thing. For me, shopping around for anything, customer service is huge.

I’ve emailed Kid Safe Mail® twice in the six months since we signed up. Once when PayPal told me i’d stopped paying, when i hadn’t but they were confused by my card’s expiry; once about what i thought was a mistake, which wasn’t. They have come back to me very quickly, within 24 hours – once within three-quarters of an hour. Polite, not patronising (even when i’d asked a patently silly question), and clearly having read my email. Which is sadly unfamiliar in the world of customer service.

So at the risk of discovering something horrible and disreputable about them the day after i post this [=joke], i can recommend Kid Safe Mail® with no reservations. How nice to be able to say that about a service.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Julin permalink
    Saturday 5 December 2009 9.06 am

    Statistics reveal that 90% of 8-16 year olds access sites with adult content on the internet. I wish to prevent my ten year old son from venturing into these forbidden sites. He has been recently initiated into using the internet and we have listed certain sites which he can visit on our PC at home. But I would just like to take some precaution, so I had selected to prevent all these errors, it’s a safe email service provider..

    As my kids are tempted to stay inside rather than playing and exercising outdoors, I use parental control software and the problem is resolved. My kid has no reason to complain, because we all agreed on how much time he would have on the computer each night. I don’t have to watch the clock, and my son is learning a little something about time management. allows me to set different time limits such as hours of the day, daily duration. It can also block Internet browsers, e-mails, messengers and keep them blocked for as long as you schedule it. I can easily add/remove time on any particular day with just a couple clicks. You can try it..

    • Saturday 5 December 2009 4.40 pm

      Looks to be very much the same kind of thing, with additionally the time restrictions, but also with the requirement for Javascript to be enabled. I hadn’t heard of KidsEmail and came across Kid Safe Mail through a friend – can’t decide if you’re a spam commenter(!), Julin, but i’ll leave this comment here so other people can make their own minds up.

  2. Thursday 19 March 2009 10.54 pm

    Sounds like a good service. I’m inclined to think though that the kids who have parents aware enough to use something like this, and who are supervised enough to ONLY use this and not get their own webmail and lord knows what else, probably aren’ the ones who need it most. Does that make sense? Nevertheless, it makes sense to use it if it’s there.

    • Friday 20 March 2009 11.51 am

      You’re right, but you’re also right.

      But tbh, even well-supervised kids (ours being my study example) are capable of taking risks they don’t realise are big risks. Marvin isn’t an explorer, but easily clicks on download now if it’s ‘required’ to listen to something, for example. Whereas Tigger is a noser into possibilities, trier of menu items. Tigger was helping Marvin with GCSE PowerPoint the other day; from Tigger’s point of view it’s fun so he’s found out what you can do, from Marvin’s he hadn’t needed it for anything.

      Yet conversely Tigger is if anything safer online, cos he listens more, imagines bad scenarios more vividly, and is more aware of what he’s doing.

      I compare it with climbing. Marvin’s fear of heights has kept him safe, but Tigger had none so his early falls on relatively small climbs (up fences aged two, etc) and consequent better ability keep him safe.

      The feature i really like about KidSafe is getting a blind copy of all mails in and out – mainly cos i can suggest he have a look at his email, if i know something has come in. He only really gets mail from me and his gran ;0) though the latest argument (since i wrote this post) is about IM.

      I thought this would be my shorter reply to the two comments i found this morning! lol You got me talking about my boys… ;0)

  3. Dave Webb permalink
    Thursday 19 March 2009 10.23 pm

    There’s another old trick for grown-ups to use.

    Get yourself a hotmail account – it’s free, they/’re trying to outdo Google (always amusing) and you can sign up for it pretty easily.

    When signing up for forums, online offers etc etc etc, always give ’em your hotmail email address and then never visit it. Hotmail’s spam filter isn’t bad, but it’s not great, so your inbox slowly fills up with crap. Visit it once a month, or once a quarter, and trash everything that isn’t useful.

    Of course, personal contacts (and banks, and other trusted sources) have your actual email address, so you won’t miss anything actually important.

    • Friday 20 March 2009 11.30 am

      Even better, with BTinternet (and surely with other services) you can set up disposable addresses, and if one starts getting a lot of spam you delete it. One address for each separate company or e-letter you allow to send you email, if you want to go that far. I have one for each ‘category’ of use, eg buying books, crafts forums, geeky forums, so if i need to delete an address i don’t have too-too many places to tell about a different address.

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