What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tocomail is an email service for families that sends kids' emails to parents first; you can then approve or reject all incoming messages. While nothing on the web is 100 percent guaranteed safe, parents can rest easy that all email from sources that aren't already approved contacts will come to them first. Kids can respond on their iPad or iPhone device via the Tocomail app.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- presenting to others
- reading comprehension
- writing clearly
- cultural understanding
- producing new content
- personal growth
- moving beyond obstacles
- asking questions
- conveying messages effectively
- friendship building
- multiple forms of expression
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Young kids will love the power that having their own email account brings, plus the bright colors and cute avatar choices are a bonus.
Photos and drawings help kids formulate complete emails and express feelings; plus, they jazz up the experience for kids and adults. Adding words and stock phrases with audio would be an interesting experiment; it could help advance literacy skills and accessibility.
There's a reasonable amount of support for users to get started, but the whole process can be a bit confusing. Some literacy development tips for parents might be a nice addition as well.
What's it about?
Tocomail is an email service that gives parents control over their kids' email accounts. A parent or guardian creates their own account, adding kid accounts as needed, then adds approved contacts to a "Safe List." All incoming emails go to the parent account first unless they're already from folks on the Safe List (family members, trusted friends, etc), and parents can approve or reject those messages. Kids can sign in after their parents and can add avatar clip art, simple drawings, cam shots, or gallery images to their outgoing emails.
Is it any good?
Tocomail offers up a service tons of families want -- a way to exchange emails without worrying about ads, unknown influences, and spam flashing before their kids' eyes. On the whole, it's well-executed: Drawing features are totally fun, and safety appears to be relatively tight with no way for unapproved contacts to get through without parent action. Money-wise, unlimited kid accounts are a definite advantage over competitors. Parents can set up accounts via the web, then everyone can use the iOS mobile device app to really simplify matters.
On the flip side, options can be confusing and the process isn't entirely thoughtful. Right at the onset, kids get a cheery welcome email from Toco, the site's colorful toucan mascot, who doesn't actually respond to any further emails. Seems like that welcome email should be from a parent if the point is to teach kids to only respond to approved family and friends, right? Anyway. The absence of any certifying web safety organizations is also a bit disappointing, and the profanity filter missed at least one iffy word from an approved contact during our testing. While the essential functions are mostly in place, some tightening up would create a smoother experience for parents. It's also worth noting that there are also lots of other places on the Internet where kids may meet and communicate with inappropriate contacts; Tocomail is just one piece of the online safety puzzle.
Families can talk about...
The purpose here is to prevent kids from exploring outside the service. However, families could start email-pal relationships with known contacts in other countries or states.
Families can talk about the need to ignore communications on the web that aren't from parents, teachers, or family. Don't forget to tell your kids to speak up and tell you if they do make a mistake and respond to a stranger, and check out our Staying Safe and Secure in a Digital World guide for tips.
Enjoy enhanced online communication with your child. Start a daily encouraging and supportive message (a note in the lunchbox type of thing!) just for smiles.