My 9-Year-Old Is Constantly Emailing The Entire Family

kids and emailFor my daughter’s 9th birthday present, her father and I bought her an MacBook Air. She needs a computer for school. She hasn’t actually USED it for school purposes yet, but she has been using it for e-mail.

I think everyone who is about to have a baby should sign up for their children to have their own e-mail account, especially if you’re naming your son John or Emily (or any other forever popular name.) And, especially, if your last name is Smith or a very common last name.

I actually got my daughter her first own e-mail account when she was about six weeks old. I was one of those super cute (or super annoying) mothers that STFU Parents make fun of. I would send out e-mails, from my 6-week-old daughter’s account, to her grandparents or her father, writing things like, “I love my mommy so much. Today I had a 4-hour nap. I really like to drool.” That phase of e-mailing for my baby daughter lasted a whole two weeks, before the novelty wore off and I completely forgot her password.

Fast forward nine years, and I set up her very own Gmail account for her. Luckily, her name wasn’t taken, so people receiving e-mails from her know right away who they are getting it from. She has seven people on her e-mail list. Me, her father, her grandparents on both sides, and my fiancé’s mother.

My daughter loves e-mailing so much that I got a call from my fiancé’s mother one morning saying, “Your daughter is e-mailing me all the time. Did you know that?”

Um, I did not know that. I figured since I do know exactly who she e-mails, I wouldn’t have to worry about what she e-mails or how often.

My poor fiancé’s mother, when I checked my daughter’s e-mail, had a good back and forth with my daughter about 20 times, with my daughter asking such pressing questions like, “What’s your favorite animal? What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite kind of tree?”

But e-mailing is great, especially when you are divorced.

For the longest time, I had to make sure she was calling her father and his parents every single day, because we are on good terms with them, but also because I was the middle person. Now my daughter can just e-mail them directly. I think they like that don’t have to go through me every time they want an update on her life. They can get updates from her every evening when she logs on. They may not exactly understand what she’s writing (her spelling is appalling) but they’ll get the gist of it.

Many of my daughter’s 9-year-old friends have their own e-mail accounts with addresses that show what they’re into. One of her friends, for example, is really into dragons. So her e-mail is her name with “dragon” attached to it. But I still like the fact that my daughter has her OWN name for her e-mail address.

One of my daughter’s first e-mail exchanges with me happened when I was out for dinner. She wrote, “Mommy, I miss you. When are you coming home?” I wrote back, immediately, “GO TO BED!” She wrote back instantly, “OK!”

E-mail is another way of yelling at your kids without actually having to yell at them.

I can also send her sweet notes, which she loves getting from me. At this age, e-mail is fun.

To all those parents who may not agree with kids having their own e-mail accounts, I say get with the program. The world is going online and if you don’t move quick enough, you won’t get your child their own name for an e-mail address. (And, yes, if you’re wondering, I know all her login passwords, so I can keep tabs.) So get with it. The world is only growing and, like signing your kid up to the school of your choice while they are still in the womb, you better sign them up, in the womb, for their own account. And, hey, there’s something so freeing about saying to her friends, “E-mail Rowan directly if you have questions about what she ate for dinner. Stop clogging up my e-mail!”

Sorry everyone on my daughter’s email list, you ARE going to hear about what she ate for dinner and you probably will be asked what your favorite number is. But at least you’ll instantly know who it’s coming from.

(photo: andrea michele piacquadio/ Shutterstock)

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You can reach this post's author, Rebecca Eckler, on twitter.
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  • Gail

    Ever thought about setting a limit for how many emails she can send to a person in a day? Even for a child I loved, I would get very irritated at a constant barrage on inane emails.

  • Ellie

    This is the stupidest article I have ever read. Good God. Maybe you might want to reserve that special email account perhaps until they are 18 but kids don’t need to be on the internet unsupervised or writing emails that have not been approved yet. Control your child and limit their exposure for their own good in my opinion.

    • 12

      Why would you keep your kids off the internet until they’re 18? That is ridiculous.

  • eclectronic

    There is a lot here. Firstly, I wouldn’t give a nine-year-old their own computer unless it was necessary. I can’t imagine her school is doing anything that requires as great an expenditure as a Macbook Air, or something that must be portable. I’d be trying to get a Chromebook if I had to get them a laptop for some odd reason.

    Children should be able to use a computer in a family room where they can be supervised. At no point in your article did you mention how you actually accomplish supervising her computer activity, and it is clear that you are not always over her shoulder.

    Secondly, your child needs to learn the importance of privacy and the lack of it in the digital world. While it’s nice to have your own name (I would recommend trying to acquire and keep active an email account for a child so that you can properly reserve their name so that they have a well-named personal email account later) that’s not something a nine-year-old needs. What she needs is a general e-mail account that is her primary address online so when she signs up for tons of things she doesn’t need or want she hasn’t ruined her account. I know you’re going to say she isn’t allowed to do that.
    I’m a grown man and I’ve ending up conversing with children about your daughter’s age because they had unrestricted internet and computer access and not much supervision. I’m not a bad guy. But for my theoretical nine-year-old, based upon what I know and what I’ve seen online the last couple decades, s/he isn’t having a computer or s/he is having a computer in a common area that I have diligently limited in functionality and in internet access.
    Unless there’s more to your supervision of her usage and restriction of her access to the internet and the rest of the programs on the operating system I’m not going to feel differently than as stated above..

  • Becky

    Your child can have their own name for an email address if you own your own domain. I can give my daughter any email name I want (or she wants). Also if you run it through google groups or whatever you can have a lot of control over the account itself. I would be very careful about giving my child free access to a computer and internet just because of phishers and lurking online predators. You want to be aware of who their talking to and what about and make sure they are familiar with the basics of internet safety. There are some good online resources for that and my daughter has had it covered at Sunday school as well as at her regular school. Look up Faux Paws the Technocat at

  • Tessa Brown

    Nine with a Mac Book Pro? You obviously have more money than common sense. I got my daughters Macs when they started college, When they were nine, they were using the family desktop that was situated in the family room so I could keep an eye on what they were doing. I love my niece dearly, but if she emailed me 20 times per day, she would get one email in return. I love how instead of telling her to limit her emails to one per day per person, you just tell everyone to deal with it.

  • Persistent Cat

    I’m giggling at how this article is written as if it’s some controversial argument, “get with the program, get your kid an email address.” This deserves a mild shrug and a bored “whatever.”

    The author wrote:

    “My daughter loves e-mailing so much that I got a call from my fiancé’s mother one morning saying, “Your daughter is e-mailing me all the time. Did you know that?”

    Um, I did not know that. I figured since I do know exactly who she e-mails, I wouldn’t have to worry about what she e-mails or how often.”

    So what you’re saying is you’re not monitoring her account. You “figured” you knew who she was emailing and that was enough.

    Then you wrote:

    “And, hey, there’s something so freeing about saying to her friends, “E-mail Rowan directly if you have questions about what she ate for dinner. Stop clogging up my e-mail!”

    Sorry everyone on my daughter’s email list, you ARE going to hear about what she ate for dinner and you probably will be asked what your favorite number is. But at least you’ll instantly know who it’s coming from.”

    So they must stop clogging your inbox but they’ll have to accept their inbox getting clogged?

    There is a magical thing one can do whereby they can set their display name so people can know who is sending the email. I can create a hotmail/gmail/yahoo account right now using anyone’s name, that doesn’t automatically mean the email is from them. You’ve used the internet, right? And who cares if the other little girl has “dragon” in her email address. Is that address on a resume? No. I’m sure most of the readers have two personal email addresses, one for correspondence and serious stuff and the other for all the sites and stores we’ve registered with.

  • Monica

    Nothing much to say about this piece of drivel other than I find it highly amusing that in typical Eckler style she just HAD to specify it was a Macbook Air. Just saying she got her kid a computer wasn’t good enough. Kinda like last week when she had to specify she was at THE FOUR SEASONS in Maui. Just saying she was on vacation in Maui wasn’t quite enough. Hilarious.

  • Helen Donovan

    Unless your friends are as babywhipped as you no, they ARE NOT going to get drivel from your child. They are going to set up a filter so she becomes spam & gets tossed. No more answers for her.

    Is it really a completely foreign idea to teach your kid some manners? Bad enough that you confuse “super cute” with “super lame,” but a nine-year-old should be able to understand that adults use technology a bit differently than her friends.

  • chickadee

    Oh dear. This reminds me of your column in which you assert that your daughter is old enough to police herself with regards to the giant [brand name] flat screen tv that you put in her room.


    I agree with other posters that it was not necessary to specify the kind of computer that you bought, and I emphatically agree that if you bought her a computer of her own it should have been a desktop and it should be located where supervision is automatic. Under NO circumstances should your young, impressionable child be allowed to have a laptop unless it is under YOUR control as to when she uses it. And I very much doubt that is the case.

    And your fiance’s mother is NOT enjoying her correspondence with your daughter, and she is probably beginning to wonder what kind of a mother you actually are and she furthermore may begin to worry about her new grandson….

  • trixiya

    people have the right to buy whatever they want for their kids – no matter how expensive – not our place to judge (it makes you sound jealous).
    the only thing that i have to say about this article is that mom should have some respect for the email recipients and teach the child netiquette.
    honestly, if i was getting 20 emails a day from my step-daughter, i’d, either, a) ignore the emails (she’ll be in therapy for years), b) tell her that i like getting emails from her, but don’t have time to write back (this could hurt her feelings), c) talk to mom and actually expect the parent to parent.
    my mother, being in her 60′s and recently having learned how to attach a photo to an email, used to spam my inbox with stupid forwards (mainly jokes and “urgent police warnings”). i told her straight up – stop sending me this sh*t – it’s the equivalent to flyers for chimney cleaning that come to your door (when you live in a condo).
    if the kid was picking up the phone and calling someone 20 times a day, would mom still laugh it off?
    etiquette is etiquette and, if parents don’t start to teach their kids manners, then this world will turn into one big madhouse of anarchy and stank.

    • Anna

      I don’t think anyone is jealous. I giggle at all the things that Rebecca name drops. I can afford them all and more. I just think it’s funny she has to brag and name drop so much. It’s so nouveau riche.

    • SmartMom

      Jealous?? That’s pretty juvenile thinking. Regardless of whether a parent can afford to buy their 9y/o a Macbook Air (or any expensive laptop/tablet/smartphone a 9y/o shouldn’t own), most parents (I hope its most) realize its bad parenting to do so. Everyone has the right to do it, just like everyone has the right to point out that its going to create an entitled, spoiled brat of a child.

  • Mary Renee Reuter

    Why is the author obsessed with email address name availability!? Like THAT’S an argument for a kid having email? It’s weird, it’s like the kid who is like “I want all the pink candy, I HAVE TO GRAB ALL THE PINK CANDIES BEFORE ANOTHER KID TAKES THEM! HURRY! There might not be any left” Because heaven forbid she use her middle name, or initial, or spirit animal or something. It must be her own name and you MUST get an email address before its taken! It’s just the strangest reasoning for something I’ve heard. I especially like that she sends emails out for her daughter that say “I love my mommy so much.” Haha. Any one else catch that? Kind of telling.

    • Anna

      So true! The even funnier thing is that technology will be so different in 10 years it really doesn’t matter if you get your kid a gmail account. We’ll likely be laughing at how cool we thought gmail and iPhones were in 10 years.

      That being said, I don’t think a 9 year old needs to be computer free. Emailing is fine. Any kind of practice writing is cool in my books. But kids need to be taught manners. I don’t think it’s polite to let your kid spam people with tons of emails.

    • Mary Renee Reuter

      Yeah, I was born in 86 but in third grade my dad got a computer for the house from work and we played old school bitmap Reader Rabbit like nobody’s business. And Math Munchers or whatever it was called.

  • SmartMom

    Wow… you are so pretentious and snobbish. I did not realize what I was getting into when I clicked on the title. My 3y/o daughter knows how to use my laptop, smartphone, and tablet, but she won’t be getting her own for quite some time – definitely not at 9 years old. Its amazing how people don’t see how irresponsible and dangerous this is, and you’ve admitted you weren’t actually monitoring her emailing habits! She only has a few contacts now, but what happens when she finds a pen pal you don’t know about? Anyone who isn’t a family member won’t be letting you know how many times she’s emailing.

  • Elle Salvatoré Bennett

    So, why exactly is it so important for your nine-year-old to have her own name in her email? She’ll get that when she goes to college. I fail to see why that’s justification for a nine-year-old to have an email. I mean, like someone else said below, that assertion is shrug-worthy. Other than that, this seems like some kind of self-conscious self-affirmation article. I’m not really that worried about how much you’re monitoring your kid; my parents barely monitored my internet use but I was paranoid enough at ten years old to abstain from giving personal information to strangers and avoided talking to creeps online. I was more worried about other things the internet provided me, like fan fiction. TLDR: this article is stupid.

  • anoymous person

    9 is too young for a macbook pro

  • Killian

    Seriously? Your answer to your kid abusing the privilege of having her own Macbook at age *9* and annoying the crap out of people is “Deal with it”?

    You’ve got to be one of the most irresponsible parents on here. Learn how to set boundaries for your kid before other people need to do it for you.

  • MrMom

    With respect, as far as I know, you can’t setup a gmail account for a 9yr old without falsifying the birthdate. I believe it is Google’s way of complying with COPPA. Not sure falsifying documentation is the right way to go. Wanting your child to master technology and use that to strengthen bonds with the family is commendable.