Passwords are a part of life in the 21st century. Begin by taking time to talk to your students/kids explicitly about passwords. It may seem like these basic concepts should go without saying, but every stable building has to be built on a strong foundation.
Cover things such as:
- how passwords keep their digital identity and online goods safe
- passwords should not be shared verbally
- remember to log out and select not to save passwords on public computers
Passwords with young kids
You can start introducing the concept of passwords as early as preschool (all without even touching a device). Try these ideas:
- Don’t say the secret word (i.e. playing Taboo style games).
- Make a fort and have an individualized secret password each child needs to enter
- Practice using polite phrases as “passwords” for everyday actions.
- Put kids in partners, then have them take turns thinking up “passwords” and making sure their partner can’t guess it.
- Suggest an at-home project: Parents keep a special snack in the pantry in a locked box. If the child forgets to lock up their treats again after eating one, the parents remove and hide the contents of the box.
Targeting lower-mid elementary students (but usable for any level that needs it), take a look at this comprehensive introductory lesson:
This lesson from code.org has students explore why people use passwords, learn the benefits of using passwords, and discover strategies for creating and keeping strong, secure passwords
Passwords tips for all
No matter what their grade level, secure passwords can be especially difficult for children to remember, so try this method to help your students have the best of both worlds:
Have students begin by grabbing a pen and paper (or opening a note-taking app) to write down the ideas they come up with.
First, demonstrate thinking of several one or two sentence phrases that your students can remember. They can be centered around favorite foods, objects or activities. They can also be lines from a favorite book or song. Once they have their sentences, begin converting them into passwords. Start by taking the first letter of each word and noting it. Then think if any capitals were present in the sentences and replace those letters as capitals. Finally, check if and special characters can be applied, such as & for and, 2 for to and too, 4 for for, * for star, and @ for at.
Sentence: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch water
Sentence: Chocolate ice cream is my favorite! But I like vanilla too.
You may also want to see if you can think of some sentences that may help students remember which website matches which password. For instance, a password for abcya.com might be based on the sentence “C is for cookie, and that’s good enough for me”, and a password for youtubekids.com could be a lyric from their favorite song to listen to on YouTube.
Passwords are something you and your students will be forced to deal with, so hopefully these tips make things a bit less painful for everyone!