Tocomail

 

Learning(i)

Kids’ email service pretty safe, but options are confusing.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Tocomail gives kids the freedom to safely communicate with their friends and family, while promoting online safety.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

The whole purpose of the site is email safety for kids. That said, according to the privacy policy, information might be shared in the case of business transfers or for legal purposes like subpoenas or court orders. Tocomail suggests that cookies can be disabled but that setting wasn't found. Terms of service state that parents are ultimately "fully responsible" for use and misuse of the service.

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • presenting to others
  • reading comprehension
  • writing
  • writing clearly
  • naming

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding

Arts

  • drawing
  • photography

Skills

Creativity

  • producing new content

Self-Direction

  • personal growth

Emotional Development

  • empathy
  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression
  • presenting

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Young kids will love the power that having their own email account brings, plus the bright colors and cute avatar choices are a bonus. 

Learning Approach

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.

Support

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • presenting to others
  • reading comprehension
  • writing
  • writing clearly
  • naming

Social Studies

  • cultural understanding

Arts

  • drawing
  • photography

Skills

Creativity

  • producing new content

Self-Direction

  • personal growth

Emotional Development

  • empathy
  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering

Communication

  • asking questions
  • conveying messages effectively
  • friendship building
  • multiple forms of expression
  • presenting

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn technology, vocabulary, and social skills involved in exchanging online mail with friends and family. What a great way to motivate kids to read and write! Kid experience is pretty simple, but adults might struggle with options and process, and plentiful opportunities to develop literacy are still untapped. Tocomail gets privacy and value mostly right but still needs some overall refinement.

This Learning Rating review was written by Leslie Crenna

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Website details

Genre:Creating
Topics:Friendship

This review of Tocomail was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byCameoSchatzi June 10, 2014
age 8+
 
LEARNING

not yet

I may not have a family yet but i definitely will give this a try when i have children. It seems very nice and helpful. Good way to at least try to keep your kids pure from bad things for now.
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