Here are a few quick tips for kids to keep their passwords safe and sound.

When I transferred one of my websites over to a new platform a couple years ago, I was lucky enough to have an old high school friend take care of the process. With over 20 years of computer networking experience, my friend also created my admin account login details, with an ironclad password. 

After Eastern European hackers tried to infiltrate my website, effectively bringing it down for 10-12 hours, I realized that I needed to change all of my passwords to something impenetrable. 

While your child may not have hackers coming after them, it’s important to make sure that their accounts are as safe as possible, so here are some safe password tips your child should know.

Safe Password Tips for Kids

1. Mix it up.

Google Support suggests making your password a mix of numbers, letters and symbols, to make it harder to crack. According to Google, “eight-character password with numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters is harder to guess because it has 30,000 times as many possible combinations than an eight-character password with only lower case letters.”

2. The longer, the better.

According to Mark Burnett, author of Perfect Passwords, the ideal length for a password is between 12 and 15 characters. Surprisingly, Burnett says that adding a couple of characters to a completely lowercase password can be more ironclad than an alphanumeric password.

3. Don’t make it personal.

In addition to creating a longer password, or including numbers and symbols within a password, children should never base passwords around their personal life. No family names or birthdays should be used, as this information is easily accessible for potential hackers. 

For those password-challenged folks, like myself, there are countless password generators available online, which can create new passwords for you in seconds.

4. Variety is the key to security.

One of the first things we learn about navigating online accounts is to have unique passwords for each account. Since so much of my life is conducted online, I’ve broken the cardinal rule in that, ahem, I use the same password, or a variation thereof, for every account. It’s a solid password, but if someone with ill intentions should decode it, everything from my websites to online banking are at risk. 

The moral here is not to do what I’ve done. As much as it may be a pain, have your children create a unique password for each of their important accounts (and you do the same).

5. Catchy phrases can help jog memory.

Part of the reason why I keep the same password is because it’s alphanumeric and includes symbols, in addition to the fact that I can easily remember it. Using a password generator can create a complex password, but that can be difficult to remember. Lifewire suggests creating a passphrase and shortening it, a little like an anagram, so that it’s easy to remember.

6. Keep passwords secure.

Now that your child has created unique passwords for different platforms, they should ensure that those passwords are kept secure. This means not leaving a Post It note on their desk or inside their locker with account passcodes, and definitely not emailing the passcodes to themselves (as hackers can easily perform a keyword search to filter out passwords in your email cache). 

Better still, consider using a password manager, which can both generate and store passwords for you.

7. Have a backup plan.

In order to ensure that accounts are as safe as they can possibly be, consider opting for a two-factor login, which requires users to use a second form of identification to successfully log into an account; the most common backup is inputting a mobile number, and having a passcode texted to your device (to then be input as an additional authenticator).

Whether you decide to follow all of these safe password tips, or just one or two, know that your child’s accounts will be more secure as a result (and take the opportunity to make changes with your own accounts as well). For once, I’m going to take my own advice and implement these safe password tips into my online life -- join me!