Managing Your Passwords Online

Lynn JataniaOur older two teens are close to finishing high school, and we’re starting to think about moving them into the adult phase of their lives. That means managing their own online presence and technology, and making sure they have full ownership of their profiles.

And that led to the big password talk.

Right now, they only have a few key passwords to remember – their school email and their personal email addresses, maybe a couple of social media account passwords, too. We’ve talked to them in the past about how to generate a strong password, but since they have to remember their passwords for logging in, they usually pick something that is based on real words, and they share the same password for most of their accounts.

Recently their dad introduced them to an online password manager. You can install it on your phone or laptop to work in browsers, to keep track of your passwords with one super master password. We already use software like this to manage our own online security; passing it on to our kids was something I hadn’t really thought of before, but it definitely fits into the “life skill” category.

The manager allows them to create more secure passwords, and finally set up different passwords for each account – it even checks to make sure their saved passwords are complex and aren’t duplicated. We’ve been able to talk more about online security and why it’s important to protect their online accounts. And we’ve warned them about the sheer number of online accounts they’ll probably be setting up as they move into their post-secondary years, and how managing all those accounts is just a fact of life these days.

Most importantly, it allows them to take charge of their own online presence. Although they required some hand holding to actually implement it and set it up, we know we’re preparing them for a happy and healthy online life going forward.

We all have dozens of online accounts, and security is so important. It’s not something our parents had to teach us; it wasn’t even on my radar when my kids got their first cell phones. But it’s yet another skill that’s a requirement for them to succeed in today’s internet-focused world.

Have you taught your kids to use a password manager?

Related MediaSmarts resources:

Cyber Security Consumer Tip Sheet

DigitalSmarts Workshop: Discover Online Safety