Saturday, December 01, 2007

Email for our 5 year old

Our boys have never had much interest in email, and given the declining use of email by the non-employed it's unlikely they'll ever do much with it.

Our five year old daughter, however, has correspondents. That's not too surprising, our children fit classic gender assumptions remarkably well.

So now she's


The actual setup is a bit more complex and even more controlled than what I'll outline here, but that's for historical reasons. I'll describe the basic setup first.

The components
  1. We have a family domain and a set of companion Google Apps services. I have complete administrative control over that domain.
  2. I created a non-admin account for her on the family iMac, which will move downstairs where we can easily watch the children using it. On that account I disabled OS X Chat and set up some lightweight family controls (more when I install OS X 10.5.3 next March).
  3. OS X Mail using IMAP to Google App Gmail.
The above links to prior posts overstate the complexity a bit. In particular the OS X Mail IMAP setup went very easily. I think Google has simplified their IMAP configuration.

The implementation
  1. The Google Apps account is "invisible" and unknown to our daughter. She doesn't know the password or even that it exists. All mail is sent and received throught that account, and all incoming mail is copied to my wife's account. (I could also send a copy to a bloglines email/rss conduit; if I did that then I'd monitor via bloglines.)
  2. OS X in her account works with Google App Gmail. So I have access to all sent and received email.
It might be she'll never make much use of her email, it's a waning habit for the young. If she does though, we'll be able to track it until she's older and ready for more independence.

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