Password safety for kids is not something that might come to your mind when speaking about online child safety. However, raising children to always create strong passwords is a very powerful way to protect them. Many children (and adults!) can be lazy when it comes to password creation, and unfortunately, it takes learning the hard way for them to change their habits. By educating your child early on and building the habit, you can help protect them from getting hacked and having their private information released on the internet.
To do that, you need to explain why it is so important to have strong passwords for kids, how to create one, and how to remember it.
Why Is A Strong Password Important?
We don’t need to spend much time discussing the consequences of being hacked and how common it is. Pretty much everyone has received strange Facebook messages from their friend, heard of somebody whose identity was stolen or read in the news about the latest corporation whose data was hacked, exposing millions of people’s private information. Online security is fundamental these days at all levels.
Getting hacked can not only have long-term severe tangible ramifications for individuals- but it can also be a terrifying and scarring experience that no parent wants their child to go through. Knowing that some unknown stranger accessed your private information but not knowing how, why, or what they plan to do with it can cause permanent psychological damage. In some cases, hackers will even send threats to their victims to intimidate them and stop them from taking countermeasures against the hacker. Therefore, it’s essential to tell your child to inform you if anything like this happens.
What Makes A Strong Password?
Length is key
Hackers can use what is known as “brute force” when hacking which consists of trying different passwords until one works. This process is usually automated, allowing them to try massive amounts of different combinations. As computers get more powerful, they can brute force passwords faster and faster, so it’s vital to ensure your password is long enough to protect you. 12-16 characters are typically recommended these days with a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters (although length is the most important).
Don’t use personal words
Tons of people use their pets’ names as passwords for kids and themselves. If all a hacker has to do is look at your social media to find your password, it’s probably not strong enough! Your passwords should not be related to you personally, including any numbers you use.
Don’t use common words and number combinations
For obvious reasons, your password should never be something that other people probably use. For example, “soccer1234”, “password”, “dragon”, and “qwertyuiop”. These passwords are easy to guess and are probably on the list of the top 500 most common passwords that many hackers will have their programs enter automatically to break into accounts (which is a much more common method than using brute force).
Don’t use the same password twice
We know this is hard, but if you use the same password for multiple accounts and your log-in data from one of those accounts is leaked (even through no fault of your own), hackers could easily use your information to log into your other accounts. In addition, if you use the same passwords for your kids, when a hacker gains access to one child’s account, they now have access to all accounts, making dealing with the breach much more complicated.
Use password generators
People are always saying that they have only so many passwords they can come up with. To be honest, we get it. It is challenging to come up with creative passwords, especially ones that are impossible to guess for hackers while simultaneously being easy for you to remember.
You no longer have to wrack your brain to find a thousand and one passwords. There are now tools like Dinopass that parents can use to generate multiple passwords for their children. If you have more than one child, it’s even more complicated to create multiple passwords for all of them. With Dinopass, you can now rest while the software does the work for you.
Having a long password is not enough. To ensure that hackers are unsuccessful in cracking your passcode, use symbols throughout your password. You can put them at the beginning, middle, or end. If, for example, you use a sentence as your password, you can have a symbol after every word. You can use the same symbol or even mix it up: the goal is to have a password that is impossible to guess.
Have a backup plan
These days, having a password, whether it is strong or unpredictable, may not protect you from hackers. So instead, opt for two-factor authentication to ensure that your accounts have the maximum protection available.
Two-factor authentication works by adding an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. To obtain account access, you must provide an additional log-in credential in addition to your username and password, and obtaining that second credential necessitates access to something that belongs to you.
Teach children to not share passwords
It goes without saying, but do not at any point share your password with anyone. As a parent, it is vital that you share with your children why online security is crucial and the part that a password plays in protecting private, personal and sensitive information. Tell them that they can only share their passwords with you and a trusted guardian.
Children need to know that they cannot share things like their home addresses and pictures of themselves and their families with just about anyone. Tell them the risks associated with being reckless with their passwords like leaked photos, medical and banking information and important documents that hackers can sell to third parties or use to blackmail them.
In addition, tell them to always inform you when they share their password, with whom and when, so if there is any security breach, it is easy to identify. If they share their password, be sure to change it as soon as possible, especially if they use it for multiple accounts.
Parents also tend to record or write down passwords because they are too many, and they won’t remember them. While we advise against writing down your password, if you have to, do not keep it in obvious places like in drawers, on your desk, on the laptop or the fridge door. Instead, look for a secure location that only you would think of looking at.
How To Remember All Passwords?
With the large number of passwords needed for social media, bank accounts, streaming services, email, and more, the toughest part of creating secure passwords for kids is remembering all of them. Writing them down is always a tempting option, but you run the risk of losing them, someone stealing them, or not having them with you when you need them (or getting hacked if you wrote them down digitally).
We recommend making a pattern for all of your passwords that will allow you to remember them even if they are all unique.
As a simple example, all of your passwords could start with “IRDy_2Uz_=” (An abbreviated phrase you can remember- “I’m ready to use”), and then you could put an abbreviation for whatever you are logging into at the end (Amazon- AMZ) with a 0 after the first letter and the unique character that is equal to the number of letters in the abbreviated word at the end:
“IRDy_2Uz_=A0MZ^” – Amazon
“IRDy_2Uz_=F0ABK*” – Facebook
“IRDy_2Uz_=E0ML%” – Email
Is that confusing? Hopefully not too confusing to follow, but that’s what it takes to be secure. If you want some help and advice, consider also joining our Facebook group “Tech-Savvy Parenting” to discuss raising kids in the 21st century (and passwords) with other parents.
There are also several password manager programs that you can find via Googling if you want maximum security.
A Strong Password Isn’t Enough
Unfortunately, just having a strong password isn’t enough to guarantee your child’s safety. It would be best if you also informed them of phishing (the most common method of being “hacked”), online predators, and all of the other ways that they can be put at risk.
Parental control apps like MMGuardian are essential in protecting children by being vigilant and aware of password safety for kids or helping them to develop positive habits. MMGuardian allows the parents of children with Android phones to monitor their SMS, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger messages and keep a watchful eye on them from afar. MMGuardian will also send alerts to the parent if it detects any concerning conversation topics such as suicide, drugs, bullying, etc. As a result, parents don’t have to read every message constantly. In addition, there are many other valuable features such as web filtering, inappropriate picture detection, phone locking, app control, contact blocking, location, and more.
To get started with MMGuardian and receive a 14-day free trial, click here.