Monday, February 23, 2009

Pursuit of kid friendly gmail

Little T developed a fascination with spreadsheets recently, and wanted to make lists of everything. I remember "back in the day" * when someone gave me an old banking computer that had nothing on it except some sort of basic spreadsheet program. I catalogued everything I owned. Which wasn't much. I guess he comes by it honestly.

I use Google Docs for much of my document and spreadsheet work, so I figured I'd create a Google account for him. I gave him a name and Gmail address that have no personal information in it, and set him up. He's so happy.

First I set it so that I get a copy of all inbound e-mails. This can be done in the 'Forwarding' settings area.

One thing I wanted to do was replace his existing kids Pikluk account with the gmail account. Pikluk is great but I love the Gmail interface and I find the service too restrictive for a g33k family like ours. One of the Pikluk features was a whitelist - if an address was not in a specific list that I maintained he was unable to send to it or receive from it. I found this great article from Kang about creating whitelists in gmail.  Then, I created a filter that archives/removes any e-mail that isn't in my list of approved addresses.

Not foolproof, and he can change it if he gets daring, but so far so good.

He's been on it, he likes the interface although it's a bit cluttered for him, and he's been creating spreadsheets and playing with the Google Contact tool by adding all his friends and family members.

Anyone have any other Gmail tips for kids? Any extensions that would simplify the interface nicely?

* "back in the day" - it was a Wednesday, in case you didn't know

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