Cell Phone Safety: Top Ten Tips for Teens Cyberbullying Research Center image 1

By Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
(For a formatted .pdf version of this article for distribution, click on the image above [or click here]).

1. Protect them. Never, ever give your password (on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, email, or any similar service) or cell phone unlock code to anyone—even a friend. Friendships sometimes don’t last, and that password can be used against you.

2. Remember your secret answer. When you create an online account, and it asks you to provide an answer to a question you should know – don’t treat it lightly or as a joke. Make sure it’s something you will remember months and years from now in case you have a problem at that time.

3. Don’t disclose information about you.  Do not use passwords  based  on  personal  information (your login name, birthdate, address, phone number, middle name, pet’s name, etc.).

4. Mix it up. Use a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and non-alphabetic characters (symbols) if possible.

5. Be creative. When creating a password, make your own acronym from a phrase that means something to you, and group together the first letter of each word. Use numbers and symbols when you can. Make sure the acronym you create has at least seven characters. Here are some examples:

•    “Last week I fell down thirty stairs” (Lw1fd30$)
•    “It’s 3am, I must be lonely” (I3amimbL)
•    “Baby you were born this way, Gaga#1” (BuwbtwGAGA#1)

6. Change it up. Change your password often. It takes time and is a bit of a chore, but do it anyway. It takes more time and is more of a chore to try to recover from a hacked account or from identity theft.

7. Don’t send it to others. Never provide your password via a text message or over email or in response to a request. You could accidentally send it to the wrong person or that person might show it to someone else.  Or it could be a scam.

8. Don’t post it. Do not place a written copy of your password on the side of your monitor, under your keyboard, in your laptop case, etc. Figure out a secure place where you can store the passwords you write down – or, if possible – never write down any passwords; it is best to commit them to memory or use highly-rated password manager software.

9. Avoid entering on untrusted devices. Do not type passwords on devices that you do not own, control, or fully trust. Computers in Internet cafés, school labs, airports, libraries, or similar public places should only be used for anonymous Web browsing, and not for logging into your online accounts.

10. Use different passwords. Don’t use the same password across all of the online accounts you have. Try to use different passwords at different sites, so that one hacked account doesn’t lead to other accounts being hacked.

This Top Ten List educates youth on how best to create and use passwords for online accounts in order to keep them from being victimized.

Citation information: Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2013). Password safety: Top ten tips for teens. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved [insert date], from http://cyberbullying.org/Top-Ten-Teen-Tips-Passwords.pdf

Keywords: password safety, teens, password security, tips

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