Tips for teaching kids about managing passwords to all their accounts

Tips for teaching kids about managing passwords to all their accounts

The first Thursday in May is National Password Day. I admit, this event is not marked on my calendar, but I think it's a good idea in several respects, especially as a parent.

National Password Day exists primarily to remind people to create strong passwords that actually protect their info and to change passwords regularly (and yes, you should do that). But I also think parents can use this occasion as a conversation starter about passwords to help your kids establish good password habits now because sadly, it appears hackers, who steal hundred of millions of passwords each year, are not going away.

Talk about passwords with your kids and review best practices for keeping their information safe.

1. Keep your passwords private.

Kids needs to be reminded that passwords are not to be shared. Easier said than done, given that Cyberwise says "30 percent of 12-17 year olds who were regularly online had shared a password with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, and that almost half of those 14-17 do the same."

Remind your kids that even if their best friend is the most trustworthy person on the planet, they still shouldn't share their password.

2. Have your kids change their passwords today.

Because it's possible that they've shared, and because passwords should be changed approximately every six months, today is a great day to have everyone in the family change their passwords. Yup, all of them. Social media, email, the works.

WPD2016-AnatomyofaPassword-FB-Partner3. Talk about what makes a good password.

Review what makes a password a good password.

According to, good passwords:

* are at least eight characters long

* should not include personal information

* should not be easily guessed, and

* should use a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols.

One trick: Use a phrase, which is easier to remember and often pretty long. It's also best to use different passwords for different accounts.

4. Talk with your kids about their passwords and keep track of them if you are opting to trust but verify

While passwords are private per number one above, that doesn't mean that parents shouldn't have them. I think they should with younger kids and that parents need to be checking their accounts. Even if parents don't check regularly, kids will know that it is possible for them to do so.

I love the parenting approach of "trust, but verify" and having passwords makes that verification possible. Of course, as kids get older, verifying doesn't need to be done as often.

It can, however, still be helpful to have passwords in an emergency situation. That said,  I respect that different families approach online privacy differently, and you know what works best for you and your tween and teen.

Even if you're not still verifying, asking about their passwords starts a conversation just about passwords and the importance of good ones.

Beyond passwords, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which uses a fingerprint, recognition software, or a one-time code delivered via text message as additional identification factors, is increasingly important, too. While that is a big step forward in protecting information, it doesn't appear that passwords are going away any time soon.

Remind kids that knowing how to create and protect strong passwords is one part of being a good, safe digital citizen.

You May Also Like: A letter to my 13-year-old daughter about being safe and kind online

Prior Post: Happy Star Wars Day! Scenes from Star Wars Launch Bay in honor of May the 4th

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Filed under: Technology

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