When the Imaginary Game is Passcode


I was working in another room yesterday morning when I heard my seven year old son, and our seven year old niece, making up some imaginary game. This is nothing new, and it is something we actively encourage. I sort of kept an ear out on what they were doing as I was writing and then I heard my son saying, “Write this down: 97 – 81 – 5 – 44,” and I could hear my niece scribbling on paper, asking for some clarification. More numbers. I heard some chatter about getting the right numbers … it was enough to get me intrigued. I wandered in.

“What are you two up to?”

“We’re inventing passcodes. Secret passwords.”


“Passcodes for what?” I asked.

“For … you know … things. So no one sees it.”

My son was holding an advertising flier from the newspaper, and he had circles some random numbers from prices and phone numbers to the store. This is where he was getting the numbers that he was reading off to my niece. She was then creating the document you see above. Cute, right?

But later, it got me thinking about how this kind of lexicon of passwords and systems got into their young world, and I remembered that an online reading site that my son uses for his classroom (I will write about that another day) has passwords with students accounts. Those passwords are visual (a horse, or a tractor, etc.). And his older brothers use passcodes on their mobile devices so the younger guy doesn’t get into their apps and games.

Somehow, he made the leap from the visual to the numerical, and it just brought home the fact to me about the world he is growing up in — where passcode protection is not only necessary, but it is becoming part of the fabric of their world of information and media and online access. I like that they are making a game of it. Later, when he is old enough for us to talk about how to protect your online identity and information, maybe he will already have some knowledge base. Maybe not.

Even so, it is pretty fascinating to see them stumble into such a game of numbers and passwords.

Peace (in 34-5-29000),


One Comment
  1. It also reminds me of the ways kids play with numbers — seek them out and manipulate them and fashion them into story — something that, as we know, gets rarer as kids reach high school. Thanks for sharing this slice of life Kevin.

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