We all need password protected devices, it’s one of the keys to a safer internet and creating a better internet for all. A good parenting strategy is to instill this basic digital safety precaution in our children from the time they get their first device whether that be a cellphone or a tablet. It’s world Safer Internet Day on 9 February, make a point of sorting out your passwords once and for all.

Having a password is as important as locking your car or the front door of your house to keep unwanted strangers and criminals out. Not having a password is an open invitation for people to test your digital security. Almost as bad, is having too common or simple a password.  Some of the top six most commonly used passwords that haven’t changed much in the five years that SplashData has been compiling its list of over 2-million leaked passwords are:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 12345678

Clearly not much imagination is at play here leaving the door wide open for hackers and identity thieves.

Parenting advice: Creating strong passwords

Having a strong password is like having a Yale lock on a door, plus an alarm system. It is more difficult for intruders to crack than a simple, single lock. Opportunistic criminals are deterred by complicated security systems or multiple layers of security and will usually move on to an easier target.  The moral of the story is: don’t be the easy target online.

Another key to good password security is to keep things memorable and consistent so as not to get confused by having too many passwords.  Tech thought leaders Arthur Goldstuck from World Wide Worx ,and Mike Wronski from Fuseware, both recommend creating a strong root password or random rule that you apply to all passwords making them easier to remember.


Choose a phrase from a favourite childhood nursery rhyme:

Mary had a little lamb

Combine the first letters from each word to form the root phrase:


Now add numbers and some special characters:


How to apply this to different accounts so that you don’t forget them:

  • PASSWORD 2Snapchat:    Mhall1&8?snap
  • Facebook:    Mhall1&8?fb
  • Instagram:   Mhall1&8?insta
  • Youtube:       Mhall1&8?you

This above should be sufficient for most tweens and teens who don’t yet have much in the way of bank accounts etc, but adults should create a number of different random rules for different categories of data or data access such as:

  • Social media accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Online shopping accounts
  • Newsletters or information that you sign up to receive

Keeping track of your passwords

These can be stored in a password protected file on your computer. Use a different password to the one you use for all your accounts, of course.

You can also get many different password protection apps today that enable you to keep all your passwords under lock and key on your mobile device. Aki Anastasiou, host of the Tech Busters show on CNBC and 702’s Technobyte, recommends 1Password and Freedome, and Mike Wonski’s favourite is an app called Last Pass.


For some further ideas on how to choose a strong password and more on the world’s worst passwords read Come over to the dark side of passwords written by Arthur Goldstuck co-author of my book, Tech-Savvy Parenting, for his column, Goldstuck on Gadgets.

May world Safer Internet Day on 9 February be a reminder to make a point of sorting out your family’s passwords once and for all.

arthur-goldstuck-book-launch-4Every parent should be reading Tech-Savvy Parenting which paints a very balanced picture of the digital world and how to help children become media safe and savvy. It will give you a balanced understanding of the opportunities as well as the dangers in a quick and easy to read format written by two best-selling authors who are conscious and connected parents. Available in printed and ebook formats.

My digital safety talks include:

Tech-Savvy Parenting for parents and The One Thing You Need to Remember for learners.  Click here to make an enquiry to book me to speak.

Learn more about Nikki Bush’s effective parenting advice.