Set Up an E-mail Account for Your Child That You Can Monitor

1
Let Your Child Know What You're Planning

Mom and Daughter at Computer
Adrian Weinbrecht/Getty Images

Setting up an email account for a child is something that many parents contemplate. The reasons vary greatly and when you decide it's the right time will be different for every family and the individual child. When you're ready to go ahead with it, you might consider using a Gmail account then set it up so you receive copies of all of their messages.

Why You Might Want to Monitor Your Kid's Email

On the face of it, monitoring your child's email sounds like an invasion of privacy, especially if you have a teen with special needs. While it may not be an acceptable arrangement for all kids and parents, it may be a good idea for some families.

For instance, if your child is vulnerable to cyber bullying or susceptible to poor decisions, it may be useful to have your protective parental eyes on any incoming messages. Likewise, if you are fearful of unwanted correspondence, this may help ease your mind.

Talk with your child about what you want to do and why. If this is the only condition in which you will allow email, discuss that as well. Then, when you're in agreement, move on to the set-up.

In addition to the email, you can set up Facebook and other social networking tools to send alerts to this address. This will allow you to keep an eye on the goings-on those platforms as well.

2
Sign-Up for a Gmail Account

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 2
Go to mail.google.com to begin. Screenshot of Google application

An online email account is convenient because you can set it up and access it from any computer. You can also delete messages you don't want your child to see.

While there are many online email providers to choose from, Gmail is a good choice. It's easy to set up, has a nice uncluttered inbox, and offers a large amount of storage for old messages. It also gives your child access to other cool tools like a customizable search page, document creator, and calendar. Go to mail.google.com and click on "Create an Account."

NOTE: Since Google, like most websites, frequently changes its design and presentation, some of the details and screenshots in the steps that follow may not look exactly like what you're seeing. However, they should give you an idea so you can find your way through the sign-up process and can change the settings.

3
Start Creating Your Google Account

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 3
Start filling out the account application.

To get your child a Gmail address and all the other Google services that go with it, you'll need to fill out the form to create a Google account.

Though you may be limited by availability, try to avoid using your child's full name. First initials and last name or a word that's memorable would be preferable, but not your child's name. This can help protect their privacy and is a good rule to follow for any online username.

Since you may want to access this account without your child present, make sure that you can also remember the username and password. 

4
Finish Creating Your Google Account

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 4
Scroll down and complete the account application.

As you continue with the form, select a security question to which you will know the answer, too. Use your own email address as the secondary email. This will direct any initial information about the account and correspondence regarding problems to you.

Read the Terms of Service and, if appropriate, review them with your child. When you're ready, click on the button that lets you finish creating the account.

5
Go to Your New Gmail Account

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 5
Congratulations! You've set up an account.

If your account application is successful, you'll come to a welcome screen. Familiarize yourself with Gmail if you like by taking the tour that the service often offers. Then click on the link to go to your child's new Gmail inbox.

If you don't come to a welcome screen, there may have been a typo or omitted item in your application. Fix it, then move on from here.

6
Set Up Email Forwarding

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 7
Select "Forwarding" from the settings tabs.

In order to forward the emails to your address, you will need to customize a particular setting. This is found by clicking on the link that says "Settings."

The settings link moves around in different Gmail layouts. It is usually indicated by a gear icon and sometimes has the word "Settings" though you may have to hunt for it. It can appear at the bottom of the main inbox menu or as an icon in the top menus.

From the settings page, click on the link that says "Forwarding and POP/IMAP." This is the page that will allow you to forward your child's messages to your own email address.

If You're in Inbox by Google

In 2015, Google released Inbox by Google and it made finding the settings for forwarding email difficult. If you are directed to this newer inbox first, the address bar will read "inbox.google.com." You will have to follow a couple of steps to access the advanced settings.

  1. In Inbox by Google, go to Settings, then click "Other."
  2. Uncheck the box that says "Redirect Gmail to inbox.google.com."
  3. In a separate window or tab, go to mail.google.com and you should see a different version of the inbox for the same Gmail address. 
  4. From here, you can get to the Settings menu (typically found by clicking a gear icon in the upper right corner).
  5. Now you should see the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" option in the top menu and can proceed with the next step.

After setting up email forwarding, you can revert back to the Inbox by Google default by following steps one and two. Simply check the box you previously unchecked.

You and your child may like using Inbox by Google better. The design is streamlined, easy to use, and it does a better job of filtering out spam messages that may be tempting to them.

7
Enter Your Forwarding Information

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 8
Set Gmail to forward your child's messages to your e-mail.

In the forwarding menu (of the older Gmail program), click on the "Add a forwarding address" button.

Enter the e-mail address at which you want to receive copies of your child's emails in the box. Click the "Next" button and a pop-up box will ask you to confirm your email address.

A message will then be sent to your email with a confirmation code. Enter this code in the verification box in Gmail and click verify. If you didn't get the email, there's an option to resend it.

Which Messages Will You Recieve?

You should now receive any email messages that appear in your child's inbox. Copies of those messages should also remain in their inbox so they can read them. Gmail will not, however, forward messages it files into the spam folder.

You can also set filters so you receive only certain messages. Depending on the agreement with your child, this is a way to give them some privacy while keeping your eye on particular emails. Whether you want to use this option is a personal choice and it may change as they get older and gain responsibility.

8
Set Your Email to Recognize the Forwarded Messages

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 9
Set up your e-mail to flag your child's messages. Screenshot of Mac OS X Mail

Be sure to add your child's email address to your own email contact list so they don't get filtered into your spam folder.

Depending on your particular email program, you may be able to set up rules to mark the messages forwarded from your child's Gmail account. For example, some programs allow you to mark messages directed to your child's email address with a particular color. Others will automatically sort the messages into a designated folder. Explore the flagging and sorting options your email provider offers.

By automatically sorting your child's email, you can easily recognize them when they come in. It also helps you quickly designate your messages from theirs and keeps your inbox a little cleaner.

9
Run a Test

Setting Up a Gmail Account for Your Child - Step 10
Give the new set-up a try. Screenshot of Google application

To make sure that everything is forwarding correctly, run a quick test. Simply send an email to your child's new Gmail account.

Access the account to see if it arrived, then check to see if it's forwarded to your own inbox, and formatted as you've set it up. If everything's working, you'll know that any incoming mail to your child will be seen by you.

A Word From Verywell

While forwarding from Gmail is convenient, it's not a perfect system. You will still have to access the Gmail inbox directly to see any messages that your child sends. Likewise, you will also have to delete any messages you don't want them to see directly in Gmail.

If your child at some point decides he wants privacy and changes the forwarding and password, you'll be out in the cold. But if your child is agreeable to your oversight or you're just using the e-mail to access other services like iTunes, this set-up should work just fine.

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