Adults and kids use email to communicate rapidly and cost-effectively with people all over the world. Email transmits messages, documents, and photographs to others in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Kids are able to set up private accounts through Web-based email services without asking permission from parents.
Anyone using email is vulnerable to receiving "spam," messages from people or companies encouraging recipients to buy something, do something, or visit a particular website. Spam may be sexually suggestive or offensive in other ways.
Senders sometimes disguise themselves, pretending to be someone else - a friend or acquaintance, a well-known bank, a government agency - for illicit purposes. This is known as phishing.
Tips to Minimize Potential Risks
Talk with your kids about their email accounts and discuss the potential risks involved. Remind them never to share passwords with anyone but you, not even their closet friends.
Before you sign up with a service provider, research the effectiveness of its spam filters. You may also purchase spam-filter software separately.
Teach kids not to open spam or email from people they don't know in person. Remind them not to respond to any online communication in a sexually provocative way. Ask them to show you suspicious communication.
If your kids receive email containing threats or material making them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused, report it to your service provider. Your provider's address is usually found on their home page.