A couple of posts back I gave out some simple tips for kids wishing to use email safely.
None of those, however, will protect them from the bane of unsolicited email known as spam.
Spam, if you don’t know already, is junk mail that is distributed to thousands or maybe even millions of people via bulk mailing programs.
It is designed to make money for the senders by encouraging the recipient to make purchased, though a more recent trend is for spam email to link to malware and offensive websites.
Just like you, your kids will be receiving these emails too…
PROTECT KIDS FROM SPAM
Spam doesn’t discriminate and so your kids are likely to be receiving exactly the same sort of junk email as you are.
Yep, that means your teenage sons are getting links to porn and other adult material that I’m sure you wouldn’t want them to be viewing.
Whilst there is no way to completely eradicate spam that I know of, bar The International Do Not Spam Registry service, there are some ways that you can minimise how much your kids receive –
Unless you are using something from the Dark Ages (thats the 1990s in computer terms) then your email service will have some level of filtering built into it.
You can use this filtering ability to direct your kid’s mail into specific folders, using rules that should be able to put most of the spam directly into the trash folder.
Email rules can be used to perform a number of actions, such as letting email straight into the main area of the inbox to trashing it.
For instance, you can create a rule that will send any email containing the word ‘viagra‘ in it’s body straight to the trash folder.
Additionally, you can block certain senders though this isn’t likely to deter spammers who change their email addresses more often than we change our clothes.
Many email services come with spam blockers nowadays but if yours doesn’t then 3rd party products are quite affordable nowadays.
Whilst email filters direct incoming email into folders, spam blockers actually prevent it from entering your system in the first place.
By checking your mail server at regular intervals the spam blocking software can delete spam, and sometimes viruses too, before they are ever downloaded.
All legitimate email is left untouched and proceeds to enter your inbox as normal.
Whitelists are a great way of limiting who can send email to your kids.
As a responsible parent you can ‘whitelist’ certain email addresses.
In essence this means you pre-approve those addresses for sending email to your children whilst anyone not on the whitelist is completely blocked.
So, for example, you could whitelist your kid’s friend’s and family’s email addresses.
Then, anyone who is not a friend or family member will be prevented from emailing your son or daughter.
Parental responsibility must not be underestimated.
By periodically logging into your child’s email account you can check that any filters, blockers or whitelists that you have set up are continuing to function as expected.
Additionally, you will be able to check their outgoing mail in order to be sure that they too are using email responsibly.
Lastly, you can use the email rules mentioned above to copy yourself into any emails they receive, thereby allowing you to monitor the mail that gets through to their inbox without ever having to switch on their machine or log into their account.
Hopefully the above tips will go a long way to minimising the amount of spam that your kids ever get to see.
Can you think of any other methods that I may have forgotten though?