Greetings on a rainy, chilly Monday. A few weeks ago, I wrote here in PlainTalk about how to sign up for a free e-mail account. It's so important to have email in today's world, not just for personal communication but for business and job-related correspondence, too.
Today I received a comment from an anonymous reader who informed me that some schools in the area block students from accessing Web sites like Yahoo - so then students can't access their email while at school. I can understand why schools block email, which can bring unwanted images, videos, computer viruses and undesirable advertising of every kind, but blocking all email at school does create additional problems.
Anonymous reader: have you asked your teachers if they can recommend another email program? That's your best place to start. If you're trying to work around school policies, you may end up in trouble, and I don't want to encourage kids to set off down that road.
With Google being such an enormously popular search engine, you may have better luck accessing Google's Gmail at school. However, getting a Gmail account depends on your age - you must be 13 years of age or older to sign up for Gmail. Go to google.com, and look up at the top of the screen for the "Gmail" link. Click Gmail and then click on "Create an account." You'll have a Gmail account in minutes.
Now - what if you want to access your mail in a place where Google is also blocked, or you're not old enough for a Gmail account? (Forgive me that I know nothing about school Internet policies.) Ask if the school will let you use a "kid-friendly" e-mail program. However, almost all of these email services designed for children and teens are NOT free. Why? These sites work extra hard to block kids from potentially offensive advertising and "spam," which means they receive little or no advertising revenue. To make up for the loss, they charge for their services. Some are as low as a dollar a month, but some families may not be able to pay that cost. Free services include K-Mail and ZillaMail - low cost services include Zoobuh, ezpzemail and KidMail.net.
Parents and teachers out there: do you have any suggestions for our PlainTalk reader who cannot access email at school? Do most schools block access to email on their computers? Do schools set up free email access for students on safe sites? I'd love to hear from you and learn more about this situation.