Should my family have a shared email address?
When you first start a family this question does not cross your mind. You are 2 individuals who have chosen to start a family, and this will not change your digital life. But as your children start getting older and join the digital world, you may come across situations where it does not seem practical to use your personal account. We have some recommendations and tips along the way.
So we have concluded that, yes you should create a family email account. BUT you should limit how you use this account. So read on for our recommendations on how to use and how not to use a family email account.
Logging into shared devices
When your children grow older, your personal tablet may no longer be so personal anymore. When several people in the household use the same device, it is particularly useful to use a shared login account. If you add this account as a "child" in the parental controls app, then you can easily monitor the usage and set limitations. The easiest way to do this is to create the account from the parental control app (on Google: FamilyLink) itself, but you can also add it after it is created with a bit more effort.
Things you should set up is:
- Age limitation (should consider the youngest user of the device)
- How to handle new app downloads
- Screen times
Keep your to personal information personal
Another big reason to use family accounts on shared devices is how our digital today is tracked and reflected across all the platforms we log onto.
If you have a rash and have used doctor google to ask " symptoms skin cancer", it is really not a concern that you want your whole family to know about. There are countless cases where we google something in private and would not want others to share. You can of course remember to use the "incognito" tab for all your secret searches, but this just creates another thing to remember. So you really just make it simpler for yourself and your family with a family account.
Other than the search history app downloads, passwords and payment methods are also shared across devices so this makes your individual account less secure.
Do not use your shared account for email
What?! An email account that is not to send and receive emails? Well most accounts are associated with an email, but it does not mean that we necessarily need the email receiving and sending functionality with the account.
Businesses that have shared email accounts, operate these under strict routines to make sure nothing slips, and there is always an assigned responsible for each case. We do not setting up such a regime for a family, for who is really responsible for handling emails that come into the joint account?
Another aspect to consider is that separation rates are high. We all think it will not apply to our family, but we never know as life sometimes just happens to us! So keep the family account as a just that and do not handle too many things with it as it may get complicated down the road.
The exception to this rule is if you forward information from your personal account to this family account in order to share it and make it accessible to others, or to a shared device. The important thing is that the email address is not used as the first point of contact with the family.
Do not use your shared account for subscriptions
Our concern with using a shared account for subscriptions is for the payment. If the payment can be associated with a different email address, then we are not concerned. FamilyBoard is an example of this, where payment can be linked to a personal email for payment whereas the login can be a shared account.
Subscriptions also involves emails about the app and payment, which brings us back to our previous previous point about not using the account for emails.
You may think that it doesn't matter as you are signing up for a free subscription. But at a later stage you may want to upgrade - then what do you do, continue on the shared account or start a fresh?
For subscriptions with family functionality add the shared account as a family member. This applies for entertainment apps such as Spotify, Netflix etc, password managers such as Dashlane or any other app that is convenient to use on a shared device. This keeps the preferences and favorites lists shared and not linked to one family member.
When kids go from shared account to personal account
For a while, a family account will be enough for all devices that your children may use, but sooner or later they will want more personalized choices, personal devices and a personal login. When this happen (or even before in order to secure a particular email address), we recommend that you create a Gmail account for your child. As we mentioned before, the easiest way to do this is to create the account from the Family Link app itself, but you can also add it after it is created with a bit more effort. If they need an iCloud account (for an Apple device) use the Gmail account to create your child's iCloud account. This way they will only have one account name and email address, and have a simpler digital life when they get older and take ownership of the account!
Our recommendations for a family email account
- We recommend setting up the families shared email account in Gmail. This is because Gmail is one step ahead of the others when it comes to calendars and email handling. It is also an account that can be logged on to from anywhere. If you need to create an iCloud account from the family email, then our recommendation is doing so by creating a Gmail account first.
- We do not recommend using the shared account for much more than logging onto shared devices.
- We do not recommend adding a payment option to the shared account.
- You can definitely use FamilyBoard without logging into a google account, however as the FamilyBoard operates in Android, you will get a smoother experience if you log in with a Google Account. You will then get easy access to Google Play to download other apps, you can easily save website addresses and logins, or access the family email account it you need to transfer information (like new calendar links) to the device.
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