| Passwords

Passwords. 3 tips that will help you keep your children protected online

| 30 Jul 2023

While many parents today grew up during an age wherein the Internet and the world wide web were in their infancy, for today’s kids the virtual world is inseparable from the physical. As a result, parents need to showcase proper cybersecurity habits to their kids. One question you may ask is: How can I teach children about passwords – and make it enjoyable and fun?

When educating children about online safety, passwords are a good place to start. While many people might agree that creating a strong and secure password is a no-brainer and everybody should do it, multiple statistics, surveys and breaches have shown that many people don’t follow this advice. You need to look no further than the annual lists of the most common passwords, which are consistently topped by poor password choices, such as “123456” and “password”.

Now, should you show the passwords on the list to your kids, they’d probably call them funny and easy to remember. Funny? Maybe. Easy to remember? Sure. Unsecure? Definitely! But that’s not a habit you want to foster. Instead, you can show them how to avoid the common pitfalls of password creation, and teach them how to do it properly with a fun twist. Here are three steps to follow in order to encourage your child’s password safety.

1.) Stay protected with passphrases

A good password is one that is hard to guess. Teach your children that passphrases are a lot safer than simple passwords – and you can even make a game out of creating one

This could involve incorporating an inside joke that only the family knows into the passphrase or aspects from their favorite books or films, for example “MasterYodaIs0.66MetresTall!” As you can see, this includes all the characteristics of a good passphrase – length, a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. The longer the passphrase, the fewer special characters or numbers you need to make it secure.

Alternatively, you could also combine several things they like together, such as their favorite book and food – “HarryPotterAnd5DinoNuggies!” One key thing to remember: tell your kids that they should never share their passwords with anyone, that passwords should always remain secret.

2.) Help kids’ memory with a password manager

Now that you’ve taught your children how to create a strong and unique passphrase, it’s important to keep in mind that throughout their lives, they will be creating countless online accounts. And unless you want to burden them with creating and remembering dozens of single use passwords, which will be nearly impossible as they pile up, you’ll have to introduce a solution to simplify the process.

To make remembering passwords easier, download a password manager, an application specifically designed to store all your login credentials in an encrypted vault and to generate complex passwords for you. This means that your children won’t need to keep creating, memorizing, and filling out complex unique passwords for each of their online accounts; the manager will do it for them. All they need to remember is that one unique master passphrase you came up with together. And, as Global Cybersecurity Advisor Jake Moore suggests, some password managers can even generate safe passwords for you.

Try ESET Smart Security Premium, which includes a password manager as well as sensitive data protection, antivirus, firewall and more, keeping both you and your children safe online. 

3.) Layer their security

By now your children should have their accounts secure, and their password management down to a tee. However, to keep their accounts safe it is beneficial to add an extra layer of security. That’s why it is important to use multifactor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA).

Generally speaking, one of the most common 2FA factors used is SMS based; when you try to log into an account, you will receive an automated text message with a one time passcode that allows you to proceed to your account. Unfortunately, it is not at all the safest option since mobile numbers can be spoofed and text messages can be intercepted. Therefore, it’s better to opt for one of the safer methods, such as an authenticator app, which is also recommended by Jake Moore, or a hardware solution such as authentication tokens.

When it comes to either physical tokens or authenticator apps, it’s easy to dress up their use in a fun way for kids to understand. They’ve probably seen a cartoon or kid’s movie where the protagonist is a schoolkid by day and superspy by night. So you can explain that an authenticator app is a special tool that sends spies a time-limited unique code that only they have, giving them access to sensitive information, which is classified top secret.

It pays off to start early

While teaching proper cybersecurity habits to kids may seem a daunting task, it is important to start early, especially in this digitalized day and age. However, by incorporating understandable and fun elements it can prove to be a useful and exciting bonding exercise, which will teach your children to remain safe online. Above all, teaching children about proper password hygiene early on will carry through into their adult lives. 

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Teaching children about the basics of online safety (Personal Identity Theft)

Kids today can be described as digital natives: they were born into the world of the internet and often they start their online lives in early childhood. To keep their online existence safe, they need to know how to protect their data. And parents need to know how to discuss the risks of the internet, how to educate children without frightening them, and how to help them understand that self-protection is not just something that their parents demand but a practice that they themselves should want to pay attention to. Educate your children through a series of questions that you can answer together with them.