An email account for a preteen requires adult supervision for his or her own protection. Congressional passage of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was meant to protect children from providing personal information without a parent's knowledge and permission. It does not and cannot control a child's unsupervised Internet surfing, or instant messages or emails between the child and an undesirable individual. According to the organization KidsHealth, a child's best protection from Internet predators is adult or parental supervision.
Navigate to the Google page that allows you to set up a new email account or copy and paste the URL address in the Resources section, below, in your browser.
Click on the second box in the far right corner of the page, "Create an account."
Fill in your own first and last name and the 12-year old's desired user name in the box labelled "Get started with Gmail". For safety and privacy, the user name should not be a combination of her real name, such as "Jane.Doe@gmail.com."
Choose and enter a password easily remembered by both you and the 12-year old. Click the box "Enable Web History." You will now be able to monitor the child's browsing history when he is signed into his email account and uses Google for a browser. Choose a security question and an answer to the security question. Enter your own personal email address in the box labelled "Recovery email."
Enter your location and your own date of birth. Then enter the word verification. Scroll down the Terms of Service and click on the bottom button "I accept. Create my account." The next screen will congratulate you on creating your account.
Click on the dark navy blue button to the top right labeled "Show me my account." The next screen will show your email inbox with three introductory emails. At the top of the screen, to the right, will be the 12-year old's username in bold. Beside his name is a clickable link "Settings."
Click on the link "Forwarding and POP/IMAC" link located on the "Settings" page halfway across the top. In the top Forwarding box, click on "Add a forwarding address" and enter your own personal email. A confirmation code will be sent to your email address. Open another browser, check your mail, and obtain the code. Enter it in the box back on the Google email settings account to verify the forwarding instructions.
Notice that the options in the Forwarding box have now changed. Change the radio button from "Disable Forwarding" to "Forward a copy..." and choose "keep Gmail's copy in the inbox." All of the 12-year old's email will be forwarded to your email for supervision, but an unread copy will remain in his email inbox. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the "Save Changes" button. The screen will return to the 12-year old's mailbox.
If you are aware of specific email addresses that you wish to block from the 12-year old's inbox, return to the "Settings" section of the inbox and chose "Filters." At the new page, click the link "Create a new filter." You may then establish filters according to the sender, the email subject or any words within the body of the email.
KidsHealth and other organizations strongly suggest keeping the computer used for a child's Internet access in a public area of the house for ease of supervision.
Do not establish a monitored email account for the 12-year old without his full knowledge that you are overseeing his email activity for his own protection.