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Site debuts email for children

Headbone Interactive, a developer of online children's entertainment, launches a free email service for children on its site.

Email has been called the "killer app" of the Internet, and children are known all over the media as the "Net generation." Put it together, and the logical outcome is email for children.

Headbone Interactive, a developer of online children's entertainment, today launched a free email service for children eight to 14 years old on its Web site, the Headbone Zone.

Children are a desirable target market for Net companies because they tend to adopt technology more easily than older people accustomed to life without it. Also, as schools get wired, children are exposed to the Internet more frequently. Moreover, children who use the Net probably will grow up to be active Netizens.

A study late last year by research firm Find/SVP found that 14 percent of children and teens in the United States log on to the Net, making youngsters one of the fastest-growing segments online.

With that in mind, other Net companies have stepped up their efforts aimed at children, including Yahoo and America Online. Disney launched email for children in November 1997, through its subscription online service, Daily Blast. With the trend among sites for adults to add features such as free email and paging services, children's sites could be starting to follow.

Beginning this month, children who register at the Headbone Zone can get their own email addresses. Information requested for registration is limited to entering an ID for use on the site, a password, the child's birthday, and gender.

Notes on the site say the last two questions are asked so that Headbone can better tailor its content to its audience. The company stresses on the site that any information about members will not be sold to outside parties.

"Free email is a natural extension of our community-oriented Web site," Headbone president Susan Lammers said in a statement. "Kids will enhance their writing skills and meet lots of new friends through their Headbone email, while the parent-determined safety features will ensure positive online interactions."

Children who register are required to give their parents' email address, and parents are informed of the child's registration on the site. Parents also get a password so they can control the safety preferences for their child.

The email service is provided by Commtouch Software. Commtouch says the email for children has antispam and antivirus protection, and parents are given the option to control from which email addresses their child can receive mail. Messages sent from other addresses are rerouted to the parents' email box for approval.

Other features on the Headbone site include games, chat, educational "research adventures," and a gift shop.