email

When You Start Letting Your Kid Use Email By Themselves

Young black girl with a fun afro hairstyle sitting at a table at home browsing the internet on a tablet computer with bright sun flare through the window alongside her

My little girl was beginning to walk, wobbly at first, as we held her hand and guided her. Two years ago, I set up an email address in her name so I could sign her up for a Goodreads account. Because she didn’t know the password, I had it forward all emails to me so I wouldn’t have to log in. As such, we would get notifications when a person would like her reviews. Like that time she reviewed “A Story a Day for Every Day of the Year” by Walt Disney with this:

“I like the book because it’s really on a good level for me because it has small words and tons of stories, so I really like it.”

It’s hard to believe that was just two and half years ago.

There were also other notifications, like the ones we got from Google+ when people added her to their circles…a reminder that she wouldn’t be ready to handle her own email account until she’s a little older.

But she’s a big kid now—she’s in 5th grade. Because her Judaics teacher is based in Israel, he teaches the class over Skype, which means he shares lesson plans and tracks progress through an online portal. Suddenly, she’s got her own dedicated browser on my laptop and she knows her Gmail password.

Last Friday, her class had a visiting lecturer who left them with some research. After reading the material, they were supposed to email him their responses. While she did the research herself, I helped with the email formatting: “Write ‘Dear Dr. Levitt,’ then put a comma, hit the enter button twice, make sure to uppercase the first word of each sentence,” and so on. When she decided to make it a numbered list, I showed her the difference between simply putting numbers before each line and choosing the number list. These are some real important life skills, OK?

Then, the girl next door wanted to know if she had an email address. My daughter asks me if she can give it to her. Sigh, yes, you can give it to her.

Two minutes later: “hi its roxy.”

I think maybe it’s time for me to turn off the forwarding.

This morning, we received a response from Dr. Levitt, where he said she got all the answers right. This is great! What a wonderful feeling to start off the morning—so wonderful that I couldn’t wait to show Gitty later!

I’m so glad I decided to leave the forwarding on.

This evening, past her bedtime, after her homework was already all done, she remembered that she never checked her email to see if Roxy wrote. I groan. I remind her that all email is forwarded to me, and yes, Roxy did write. She insists she has to check it; Roxy asked her if she got it.

I hand her the laptop; she’s not sure how to get to Gmail. I show her.

“Hi Roxy,

i don’t think i’m doing anything thursday after school.”

I see my lessons don’t last long.

Then, she proudly says how she learned how to do emojis.

“Did you learn in school?” I ask her. “No, I saw a smiley face and clicked it.” Presto! My little girl wrote her own email; it has 11 words and three emojis. This ratio will be inverted shortly.

In the next 60 seconds, I see that Roxy is calling her to look out her window, that Roxy cannot open her own bedroom window, and that there was some boom outside which they both cannot identify.

My little girl is running, and I better get out of her way.


Read More:

Bracing Myself Against My Son’s Severe Mental Illness

Why I Don’t Want My Children to Grow Up in a Safe Space

Orthodox Women Take On ‘Vagina Monologues’ & Make it Their Own


Eli Mandel

Eli Mandel is a graduate of Pupa cheider in Monsey, Telz yeshiva, and Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is now recovering from ultra-Orthodoxy with his wife and four daughters in Allentown, PA. When he's not riding his motorcycle he practices accounting as a form of Tikkun Olam.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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