Teaching about Passwords

 

We had some interesting discussions in class yesterday about passwords. Stories about getting hacked by friends, about sharing passwords as a sign of friendship, of never even considering how easily a password could be cracked, of forgetting a password. And most of my sixth grade students admitted they think very little about the passwords they come up with, and most use the same password everywhere. (I suspect the same can be said for many adults.) The discussion was part of our Digital Life unit, and I shared an interesting tool that tests the hackability of a password. The kids were jazzed about testing the strength of passwords, and then were suitably shocked when the site would say that their passwords could be hacked “instantly.” The video from Common Craft hit all the right spots, too.

Again, I downplayed the fear factor in all this, and turned it around to a positive, and guided them to think about how we can use language and writing to create strong passwords. This includes reminding them of memory devices for creating passwords that might seem like nonsense to the outside world but will make perfect sense to them. We talked about how the use of symbols and numbers, and mixing upper and lower case letters, all help strengthen a password.

Here is the site we used:

Password Strength Meter Checker

And I did not show this video, but it cracks me up everytime, as this comic laments passwords. Very funny.

Peace (in the password),
Kevin

 

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