There was a time where pen pals only refer to the exchange of snail mails between two people. But in this computer age, pen pals can exchange messages from email, social networking sites, or even SMS.
Having a pen pal can be a good way to meet new people, learn different cultures and gain friends, especially for kids. It has its risks, of course. But if you know how to manage the information being shared with the pen pal, there shouldn’t be any worries.
To know how to guide your child into having a pen pal safely, read the tips provided below.
- Select a mode of writing. Discuss with your child the preferred method of sending the messages. Would you prefer that he use the old route and go for snail mail? Or would you prefer that he use the convenience of sending it over by email or social networking instead? Make sure your child has a say on the matter and discuss the pros and cons.
- Ask relatives and friends for appropriate pen pal recommendation. If you have family or a friend that has a child of almost the same age, ask if they are interested in having your child as a pen pal. It is important that the other party consents of this and is as equally interested. You would not want your child to be disappointed if the supposed pen pal does not respond. At the same time, it is a good idea to introduce your child to a pen pal that you or your family personally knows. Especially if your child will correspond over snail mail, he would need to share your complete address to that pen pal. So it is imperative that you can trust the pen pal with that information.
- If family and friends cannot recommend someone, contact your church. Most churches have connection with other parishes that have youth organizations. Ask if they have a pen pal program for the youth that your child can join in.
- Guide your child when writing. Be it on paper or computer let your child write to his pen pal by himself. This will allow him some time to think and compose. A pen pal will able to help your child to practice writing and thinking constructively. As soon as he is done though, read the mail before sending it. This is to make sure that your child does not disclose very personal information. Do the same when your child receives a response from his pen pal.
- Nothing beats the old snail mail method for pen pal writing. As snail mails tend to take time, only a few mails can be exchanged in a month, hence, anticipation of receiving a response is more likely rather than being able to check the email every hour.
Supervising your child write to a pen pal also gives you both time to interact and bond. Also, this will be a good venue to teach your child proper sentence construction, thought organization, penmanship and grammar improvement. Encourage your child and make this activity fun and exciting.