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Monitor Children’s Email Usage without Looking over Their Shoulder with Starfish

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 12/31/2008

If you’re concerned about who your children are emailing, Starfish Family Mail might be able to help. With heavy privacy guards including a manually created contacts list, parents control the email addresses accessible by their kids.

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    What is Starfish?

    Starfish Family Mail is a very basic email utility targeted especially towards parents of young children. While it may be slim in features, the software is not really touting itself as a tool to be used by professionals or even the average email user. Instead, Starfish is for those who are more concerned with privacy guards and not being exposed to all the adult email that circulates on the Internet.

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    Features

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    Image 2 If you’re looking for great organizational tools or lots of customization, Starfish Family Mail is definitely not for you. Instead, the developers of Starfish have concentrated on two major aspects: making the application extremely easy to use and blocking the ability to send and receive email from unknown parties.

    On that note, they’ve done a great job. The email application is extremely intuitive, and it shouldn’t take long to become completely familiar with all the basic commands. What Starfish lacks in fancy features, it makes up for in ease of use.

    In addition, it’s hard to imagine an email program with a tighter control on privacy than Starfish. Users of the program will only be allowed to send and receive mail associated with email addresses that have been manually added to a contacts list. In order to make any changes to this list, you have to know the Admin password. This makes it easy for parents to choose exactly which people their children can communicate with, and it offers the additional guard against children figuring out how to modify these options on their own.

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    Setup and Installation

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    Image 1 Downloading and installing Starfish Family Mail is a breeze. Along with step-by-step instructions on the web site that are accompanied by screenshots of the process, the software walks you through every task you need to perform.

    The setup process is another story. You won’t have any problems at all if you’re used to manually configuring your POP3 and SMTP settings. However, if you’re used to the automatic configuration options that are offered by other major email applications nowadays, you may not like this part. Just make sure you have all the information on the POP settings for your email account before you attempt to setup the account in Starfish.

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    Support

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    I may be spoiled, but I’m used to comprehensive online manuals and FAQ sections for most of the software I use, especially if the application has a price tag. Other than a rudimentary help file that comes with the software, the only support for this product is through their Tech Support center.

    There is a voice line listed in addition to the email address for Tech Support, but the hours for the department are 9 am to 4 pm Central Time and the number is not toll free. I guess that’s one way to discourage phone calls! Still, at least you’re not being thrown out to the wolves completely, and you do have options for getting your questions answered.

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    Price and Summary

    Starfish Family Mail has a price tag of $24.95, but it does have a trial version that you can download so you can try before you buy. If you have big concerns about the people your children may be interacting with on the Internet, this isn’t such a bad figure. However, because of its lack of features and the fact that you have to manually enter every address that you want to be able to contact, Starfish is not a replacement for your standard email application.