Does your tween have an email account or are you considering allowing them to create one? Between the ages of 7 and 12, children become proficient readers, writers and technology users. It has become almost a given that tweens have email addresses. And while parents may have put in place the proper safety nets to keep their kids safe, what they may have not considered is that someone else may be reading their children’s messages.
A recent GfK Roper Poll found that only 30% of Americans are not aware that their email provider is scanning their email content to target them with advertising. There is no opt-out opportunity and accounts belonging to tweens are non-exempt. Gmail, a traditionally popular email provider among parents because of their strong spam filters, is guilty of this practice.
Even if tweens don’t have Gmail accounts, their emails are subject to being scanned if they send to someone who does. Microsoft’s director of Online Services Stefan Weitz gave an example of a child who uses another email provider sending a message to Abeula who does use Gmail. “The child’s email still gets scanned even without parental approval.”
Until recently this would have been illegal. Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), web sites weren’t allowed to collect any identifiable information on minors without parental consent. But changes made this past December create provisions for sites that collect information for their own use including contextual advertising.
When it comes to children, parents must decide if they feel comfortable with their child’s information being scanned, stored and used to target them with ads. It’s a personal decision just as personal as allowing a tween to have an email account at all.
Our tweens live in a technologically advanced society and learning how to properly and responsibly correspond by email is an important part of that development. It’s up to us as parents to create strong guidelines and make informed decisions on when is the right time, and the right way to begin sending emails.
As a mother of twin tweens in 2011 and an active Girl Scout Troop leader, Cristy realized there was a need to develop bilingual digital content and foster a community facing the challenges of raising kids after first grade. That year she founded and remains co-Publisher of Los Tweens & Teens, to support multicultural parents and mentors with content related to raising Gen Z- tweens & teens ages 7-18. Through the Los Tweens & Teens LIVE events such as Teens & Me – the growing team aims to provide our community with essential resources from chats with therapists to battle anxiety and bullying, to understanding social media and technology.