The internet is without a doubt a great way for children and teenagers to learn and be entertained, but it’s also a dangerous place where accounts can get hacked and identities stolen. That’s why it’s so important to teach your kids about internet security and protect them from malicious individuals online. Most importantly, they need to understand why they need secure and unique passwords for all of their accounts. Considering that almost half of 6th-8th graders share their password with friends and a whopping 78% use the same password for every account, this is a pressing matter that needs to be solved.
Make a Game Out of It
Let's face it, password security can be a pretty dull topic – especially when you have the attention span of a 10-year-old. So, try thinking outside the box when you're teaching your kids about good password hygiene. For example, let's imagine you're helping your children come up with strong passwords. Instead of going over how long passwords need to be and how uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols need to be included, you can just ask them who their favorite cartoon character is. Let's say they choose ‘Chase' from Paw Patrol. From there, you can create several funny (yet secure) passwords. For instance, if you take out the vowels and add Chase's age, you get ‘ChsPwPtrl7'. Not only is this password hacker-proof, but it's easy to remember and fun to come up with.
Put On a Show
Kids love spending time playing with their parents – especially when they use their favorite toys. Get your kids’ favorite stuffed animals, put on a funny voice, and have a password security class. This will help keep your children’s attention while explaining to them how hackers can exploit their weak passwords to do bad things. For instance, when explaining how a weak password on their Fortnite account may lead to a stolen credit card, tell them that it might mean not having money to buy candy or Fortnite skins (depending on what they value most).
Another option is to explain that when they use repeated passwords, they might lose access to all of their entertainment with just one hacking attempt. This means no Fortnite, YouTube, TikTok, etc.
Monitor Passwords Through a Family Plan
Although teaching your kids about password security is necessary, you’ll still need to monitor their credentials to make sure they’re following best practices. Fortunately, many password managers, such as Dashlane and Keeper, offer affordable Family subscriptions – some even cost less than 50 cents per user per month.
Family password managers allow you to check if your kids’ passwords are strong enough and change them when necessary. Additionally, since password managers autofill credentials, it can be an easy way for your kids to securely log into their accounts without having to think about it.
Of course, it’s important that you teach them how to use a password manager. But, considering how tech-savvy kids are nowadays, they’ll probably understand the software better than you soon enough. Password managers are extremely intuitive, after all. As an added bonus, this type of software often comes with a reliable password generator that creates completely random passwords. The main goal of this is to create strong passwords, but it also makes it impossible for your kids to remember them, decreasing the chance of them sharing their accounts with friends.
In this day and age, it’s impossible for your kids to be offline. YouTube has become one of the biggest entertainment outlets for the younger generation and homework usually requires internet access to complete. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stressed out about hackers all the time. By adapting your speech to their age, coming up with fun games, and using a password manager for peace of mind, your kids will be able to create new accounts that are hacker-proof.
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