Recently, my kid won an iPod Touch at school. Eager to set up her new device, she quickly entered the required 4 digit password (or passcode). A few days later, I bet her I could guess her password. I had just read about the top 10 iPhone passcodes and I was curious to see if hers was one of them. I started at “1234” and worked my way down. Much to her surprise, I guessed it and fairly quickly.
In the rush to play with a new device or register for a website, the password is the last thing a kid thinks about. However, a strong password can protect against someone tampering with an open account or protect information if a device is stolen.
So how do kids build a strong password?
It is difficult if limited to 4 numbers. If that is all a website or device allows, there are still a few tricks. “9,” “8,” “7,” and “6″ are the least often used first digits. The more randomized your number the better so do not use numbers in any sequence.
If the website or device allows for a longer password, use at least eight characters. The best possible password contains numbers, letters and symbols. However, a completely random password is hard to remember. Kids may find it easier by coming up with a simple phrase and writing it as a short text. For example, a phrase like “i have 1 dog and 1 cat” becomes the password “ihv1dg&1ct” or “love to ski and hike” is “lv2sk&hk”.
Another concern with passwords and kids is the sharing of passwords. A Pew Internet Study found 30% of online teens admitted sharing one of their passwords with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Girls are much more likely than boys to share passwords. Nearly half (47%) of the girls between ages 14-17 admitted to sharing passwords with friends or significant others.
Kids share passwords with friends as a sign of trust. Unfortunately when a friendship ends, a former friend may decide to use a shared password to mess with an online account. Kids should not share passwords, but many kids do. If your kid has shared a password, remind them that when a friendship changes so does the password.
Kids can easily change their passwords on most devices and websites. They should change them periodically. For the iPod Touch, the default is a simple passcode of only four digits long. This feature can be turned off to allow for a longer password composed of numbers and letters. Check out how to change passwords for more information on changing passwords on popular devices and websites.
If you want to play “I bet I can guess your password” game, here are the top 10 most frequently used passwords for 2013: