Passwords – It’s Not Cool to Share

By on Mar 22, 2016

Rightly or wrongly, being part of the ‘it’ crowd at school is what every tween and teen yearns for. Being part of a group makes kids feel safe and protected during a time where they could be feeling very vulnerable.

Quite often kids will do whatever it takes (much to their parents’ horror) to secure their membership in a group, and it appears that sharing passwords is no exception.

New research released by McAfee shows that more than a quarter of Aussie kids aged 8-16 know the passwords of others. Worse still, nearly a third (28%) have used them to log into others’ devices or social media accounts to snoop, post fake updates, change settings or replace pictures as a joke.

Now, whilst there is an array of potential hair-raising activities that adventurous teens could be partaking in, sharing passwords is not something we can ignore. In fact, sharing passwords could actually have some of the most devastating consequences to your child’s future.

Managing passwords is one of the most important ways to keep a tight reign over your digital reputation and online footprint. If your password gets in the wrong hands, your digital footprint and reputation is no longer in your control.

Many school principals make no secret of the fact that a teen’s digital reputation will play a role in determining prefectships, scholarships and the elusive role of school captain. If a potential candidate’s social media profile is not in keeping with the school’s values, then an applicant will be disregarded.

So, here are a few of my tips to help keep passwords safe and manage digital reputations:

  1. Create unique passwords for all accounts, whether it’s an app, social media or website. Ideally passwords should be 8-10 characters and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, as well as symbols and numbers. Avoid using familiar numbers and names – this will only lead to trouble.
  2. If possible, enable multi-factor authentication for logins – which will ask you to verify your login via text (for example). This way you will know if anyone is trying to access your account without you knowing
  3. In addition to websites, apps and social accounts, make sure devices are protected with passwords too. Use a pin or passcode and make sure it’s not the same for all your devices
  4. A helpful option is an identity manager, which can take out the hassle of creating various passwords.  McAfee LiveSafe™, which offers protection across all devices, also has a multi-factor authentication application included called True Key by McAfee that makes it easier and safer to login to websites, apps or devices by using a combination of factors such as the user’s face, fingerprint or device

So please encourage your kids to keep their passwords safe and secure and NOT to share, regardless of pressure from the ‘group’. I get my boys to think of passwords like toothbrushes – they are not for sharing!

Till Next Time,

Stay Safe Online!

Alex x

About the Author

Cybermum Australia

Alex Merton-McCann McAfee’s Cybermum in Australia, Alex, is a mother of four boys aged 13 to 20, who juggles family, work, home life, sporting commitments, hobbies and her children’s ever growing social lives (on and offline). Like many Australian parents, Alex has concerns about the safety of her children, who are growing up in an ...

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