To emphasize the importance of keeping passwords private, we want to tell you the heartbreaking story of a little girl who had a fight with her brother. The brother knew her password and logged into her account, sold her most beautiful virtual dresses and used the money to buy dozens of generic sandals.
This is a great example of the harm kids can cause to each other. Virtual items may not seem like a big deal to a grown-up, but losing them can be devastating to a kid. Luckily this story had a happy ending and the girl got her dresses back, but that’s not always the case.
Best kept a secret
After years of working with kids we know that the most important quality of a good password is that it’s kept a secret. Too many kids reveal their password to a friend or even to a stranger, and after that their accounts are at risk. Because many kids use the same password on many services, the damage can easily multiply.
Revealing the password to a best friend doesn’t seem like a problem but it is. Kids get into quarrels all the time, and an upset friend can create a lot of trouble. We’ve seen examples of mean messages to other friends, deleted virtual items and even deleted accounts.
Using someone else’s password to log in on their account is of course always wrong, no matter how the password was obtained. Our experience is that there aren’t many actual hacking cases in kids services, but that most account takeovers happen because the kid revealed their password to someone. As simple as that!
We recommend taking the time to explain your kid why it’s important to keep passwords secret. It pays off – and as a bonus, your kid gets to avoid unwanted sandals.