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January 24, 2012 1:37 PM   Subscribe

"One in three teens has shared a password with a friend or significant other."

There have been various articles from NYT, Forbes, CBC, Huffington Post, Marketplace, Gizmodo, etc.
posted by jeffburdges (62 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
So in this sense teens are like...people? Sorry, not buying it.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:39 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed danah boyd's take:
There are different ways that parents address the password issue, but they almost always build on the narrative of trust. (Tangent: My favorite strategy is when parents ask children to put passwords into a piggy bank that must be broken for the paper with the password to be retrieved. Such parents often explain that they don’t want to access their teens’ accounts, but they want to have the ability to do so “in case of emergency.” A piggy bank allows a social contract to take a physical form.)

When teens share their passwords with friends or significant others, they regularly employ the language of trust, as Richtel noted in his story. Teens are drawing on experiences they’ve had in the home and shifting them into their peer groups in order to understand how their relationships make sense in a broader context. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone because this is all-too-common for teen practices. Household norms shape peer norms.
posted by Phire at 1:40 PM on January 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


There were several passwords I shared with friends in high school and university, including my BBS's admin password, no ill effects. I learnt respect for such access probably, not sure how most people respond.

Anyone seen any credible theories about when the poor habits of youth juvenilizes our broader culture or when they help produce a responsible adult behavior? Relationships surely?

I'm frankly far more worried that so many people must be told to change their IM password once it starts spamming everyone, never mind convincing them to activate off-the-record messaging, but this topic has gotten considerable airtime.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:40 PM on January 24, 2012


44% of teens reported saying they were older in order to access a website, which means that 56% of teens are fucking liars.
posted by theodolite at 1:41 PM on January 24, 2012 [25 favorites]


I'm having a really hard time .... caring.

Maybe it's because "I'm the computer guy", but at my last place of employment I knew probably half the company's passwords - both business and personal stuff. Most of the time, people don't care. And if they do care they'll just change it a short while after sharing it with others.
posted by LoudMusic at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2012


What the hell good is elementary school now if kids aren't learning basic information security protocols?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm glad to see that the rule of 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours' is still enjoyed by the young'uns, even if they're not using it to full effect.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:43 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh my god all the unprotected facebooking... are a fourteen year old couple really ready to raise a tumblr blog together?
posted by FatherDagon at 1:44 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


With my ePurity Ring, I pledge to wait until marriage to share my passwords with that special someone.
posted by kmz at 1:44 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my god all the unprotected facebooking... are a fourteen year old couple really ready to raise a tumblr blog together?

You know, you jole, but doesn't a Tumblr blog run by a fourteen year old couple sound like the worst thing that's ever happened?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, of course this happens. Passwords are on everything, and as often as not don't correspond to the real usage model of what's being protected. People will share passwords to work around this.

If you think my SO doesn't know my foodler password, you're delusional.
posted by atbash at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2012


If that "one in three" is accurate in any way. I'm sure it's much much less than the number of adults who that.

Seems like a lot of these "Trouble in River City" articles lately, but suggesting that teens are less computer savvy than adults seems especially obtuse.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2012


What's the big deal? Adults in relationships do this all the time, don't they? I have my husband's passwords and I'm usually logged in when he uses my computer. It's not like you can't change them if you break up.
posted by desjardins at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


And yes, I share my passwords all the time. The need to share logins comes up quite often in life. The only ones I would have second thoughts about at all would be my bank account and my gmail. It's not a freaking nuclear launch code.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2012


GUYS, sharing passwords may not be the hottest idea in a fleeting teenage romance, and The Times is ON IT.
posted by finite at 1:47 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I use LastPass to share passwords without revealing them. Works like a charm.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2012


I loll'd kmz but "waiting until marriage" sounds riskier frankly. Btw, a coauthor once hypothesized that Santa Clause was an inoculation against religion.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2012


And yes, I share my passwords all the time. The need to share logins comes up quite often in life. The only ones I would have second thoughts about at all would be my bank account and my gmail. It's not a freaking nuclear launch code.

I've probably shared all my passwords except the password for bank account, which I haven't shared with anyone, even my wife who is a joint holder of the account. I can't have her knowing how many video games I've bought and lied about the actual cost of.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"One in three teens has shared a password with a friend or significant other." --- That is scary to think about until you realize that the password is probably "password."
posted by crunchland at 1:51 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"demand your spouse's password" is usually the front line of (i think wrongheaded) advice in cheating threads. as a teenager in the 90s i had a lot of people's passwords and shared email accounts. this is a non-story.
posted by nadawi at 1:53 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


One in three teens has shared a password with a friend or significant other.

Next week: 19 out of 20 adults have shared a car/house key with a friend or significant other.

Keep us updated!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:54 PM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


What's the big deal?

None of the linked articles seem to get at it directly, but my understanding (based on talking to people who work with highschoolers) is that the password-sharing thing is often explicitly linked to verifying that your partner isn't cheating. Or flirting or otherwise having 'inappropriate' contact with members of the opposite sex.

So on one hand it's a trust thing, but on the other hand (based on what I've heard) it's a lack of trust thing.

I agree that it's not really a "problem" that deserves as much breathless media coverage as it's been getting, but it also is ... kinda icky, in a way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:54 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, are there now password parties? Like the pharm parties and the rainbow parties? Are they having all these parties on a rotation or something?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:56 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


What's the word for a teen sharing a sexually explicit password? Let's get some sensational news stories going.
posted by michaelh at 1:57 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


You know, you jole, but doesn't a Tumblr blog run by a fourteen year old couple sound like the worst thing that's ever happened?

It appears to me that most Tumblrs are run by fourteen-year-olds. (Not a criticism.)
posted by gentian at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


When you share your password with someone, you are sharing your password with everyone they've shared a password with!
posted by Kabanos at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's the word for a teen sharing a sexually explicit password? Let's get some sensational news stories going.

53X71N6?
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:59 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the NYT piece: "That is so cute...they really trust each other."

Isn't the sharing of passwords the perfect example of not trusting each other?
posted by NationalKato at 2:02 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading this article got me thinking about what my wife and I have shared with each other. The short answer is that we haven't shared much at all, but since we know each other's computer passwords it would be trivial to look at the passwords stored in firefox or the mac's keychain and therefore get at most of them. In fact, it's never occurred to me that I would have any need to know her's, except for some sort of emergency I suppose.
posted by sfred at 2:03 PM on January 24, 2012


In other news: Judge orders woman to give up password to hard drive.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


i love 14 year olds tumblrs. they have the best fashion blogs. sometimes the posts get a little racy and i get the vapors because i'm an old lady and forget that when i was 14 i was very sexually aware. i generally unfollow at that point because, well, now i'm an old lady looking at a 14 year old who is sexually aware. then i go try to find more pg content from the under 18 set. they also have hilarious gif tumblrs - if you don't like watching award shows but want to see all the funny bits, a 14 year olds tumbr is your best bet. sometimes they have really strange and interesting fandom - like one of the 16ish year olds i follow loves paul mccartney and lady gaga near exclusively - just lots of pictures and fan art and funny gifs of these two or things tangentially related, like the beatles or lady starlight.
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


14-year-olds also have the best Doctor Who Tumblrs. I don't have time to screencap episodes and apply Photoshop filters and turn them into pretty gifs, but there are thousands of 14-year-olds who will do that for you. The trick is to just ignore any writing/commentary on the posts, lest you become infected by the squeeing.

On-topic: sharing a password can be both a sign of mistrust (I want to check up on you) and a sign of trust (I trust you not to fuck up my Facebook account). As with everything else, it depends on the context. But yes, tempest in a teacup etc.
posted by Phire at 2:09 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


> With my ePurity Ring, I pledge to wait until marriage to share my passwords with that special someone.

Heh. But what I've seen more is older couples who were married long before the internet was a common thing are the ones sharing email accounts and passwords. Younger couples have long been accustomed to having their own individual devices and accounts so there's no perception of distance by keeping separate accounts.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:09 PM on January 24, 2012


Back in my day we didn't have fancy internet accounts so we shared locker combinations.
posted by birdherder at 2:16 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


What's the big deal?

Insufficient Paranoia is the cause of 90% of the computer security failures that occur.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:20 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Back in my day we didn't have fancy internet accounts so we shared locker combinations.

Slut!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:20 PM on January 24, 2012


2 out of 3 danny the boys had someone they were dating look over their shoulder while they were unlocking their ipad and now she uses it all the goddamn time and all my emails and photos are on there for chrissakes gah
posted by danny the boy at 2:22 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The solution, of course, is to never let anyone else touch your iPad or tablet.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:23 PM on January 24, 2012


Insufficient Paranoia is the cause of 90% of the computer security failures that occur.

That's why I don't let my teen date Russian spammers.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:25 PM on January 24, 2012


Younger couples have long been accustomed to having their own individual devices and accounts so there's no perception of distance by keeping separate accounts.

Huh. Interesting. My wife told me her login password once because I was doing some computer maintenance thing but I made a point of not remembering it - not that she'd particularly care, but it just seemed invasive. Of course she should have her own private electronic space and why would I ever want to invade that? It's like reading someone's diary. I can see how people who grew up before this stuff was common might see it as something like having a shared bank account, like it shows that their couple-identity is more important than their individual-identities, and that somehow makes them feel more secure together. I don't know. Seems weird and old-fashioned and patriarchal to me.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:26 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


About the court ordered password demand: woops I guess I forgot the password.
posted by Phantomx at 2:28 PM on January 24, 2012


my husband and i have (multiple) separate email accounts, but we also have a joint one that gets all the info about bills and taxes and shopping lists and all the ways we're a single unit to the outside world. it makes it way easier than the 15 minute shuffle of "what fucking email account did we sign up to domino's with??"

...in theory. sometimes we still fuck up and still spend that time trying to find the login email, but usually. usually we remember.
posted by nadawi at 2:32 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


About the court ordered password demand: woops I guess I forgot the password.

"I find the defendant in contempt, and sentence her to imprisonment until she complies with the order of the court."
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:35 PM on January 24, 2012


Isn't the sharing of passwords the perfect example of not trusting each other?

Not if you have naked pictures of each other.

I can see how people who grew up before this stuff was common might see it as something like having a shared bank account, like it shows that their couple-identity is more important than their individual-identities, and that somehow makes them feel more secure together. I don't know. Seems weird and old-fashioned and patriarchal to me.

Imagine your wife is out and you want to install Application X on her iPad. It helps to know the iTunes Store password (which is different than the stupid 4-number login).

As for a shared bank account, fuck that. We already share the money; she doesn't need to see it. (She also makes more money than me ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:40 PM on January 24, 2012


The proper protocol for modern couples is to have individual checking accounts and then a joint account to pay bills from. It's really a rite of engagement at this point.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:42 PM on January 24, 2012


"Your mother sells whelks by the hull"

So what's the current price for MetaFilter's Own The Whelk?
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 2:42 PM on January 24, 2012


I read that as:

"One in three teens has shared a safeword with a friend or significant other."
posted by LordSludge at 2:58 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Identity-theft paranoia is even worse than pedophiles-are-everywhere paranoia. I'm glad the kids aren't buying it.
posted by rocket88 at 3:20 PM on January 24, 2012


It's not a non-issue, just a small one, in the grand scheme of things. Kids can be really cruel, and sharing passwords makes kids vulnerable to their peers worst tendencies. If my kid were old enough for any of this, we'd have an earnest, cringeworthy conversation about it, he'd probably assure me he wouldn't do it, and I'd brace myself for the worst.
posted by janet lynn at 4:05 PM on January 24, 2012


Insufficient Paranoia is the cause of 90% of the computer security failures that occur.

Given the number of passwords acquired from post it notes on monitor bezels and the bottom of keyboards over the past 20 years, I'd say it's excessive paranoia partnered with poor security design and unrealistic expectations that cause most computer security failures.

Of course today if you want to get into an account you just scrape Facebook for the answers to those moronic password reset questions.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:12 PM on January 24, 2012


Sharing passwords is sex without a condom is the new third base is the new engagement ring is the new black.
posted by maryr at 5:04 PM on January 24, 2012


My exes, all unprompted and unasked for by me, told me their passwords. I always thought this was strange, and they probably thought it was strange I never told them mine in exchange. But they're just lucky I wasn't that kind of psycho to take advantage of it, especially after they broke up with me. I certainly hope they changed them after that.

Bottom line is, don't share passwords until you're married! Same as sex, joint bank accounts, etc., etc....
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:53 PM on January 24, 2012


Wow, these comments are totally shocking to me. I guess we're both major nerds and we've lived our lives online for a long time, but my husband and I have never even discussed sharing our passwords. I wouldn't dream of asking him and I would be rather taken aback if he asked me. To me it betrays an extreme lack of trust - like demanding to be allowed to read one's SO's diary.

We do share a Netflix password, but that's the only one I can think of. We have a shared email address but I don't think my husband ever checks it.

My parents make fun of us because we share our locations with each other. I only really check it because that doofus always picks up the phone when he's driving, which is just foolish - so I look to see if he's driving before I call him, and if he is, I wait until he's at his destination.
posted by troublesome at 11:25 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is non-news and the NYTimes should be ashamed for publishing articles like this.
posted by sid at 11:42 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


One in three patent attorneys share their passwords.
By writing them down on paper.
And leaving them in plain sight on top of a laptop with a message saying, "Fix it."

In related news, one out of one IT guys cry over their security policy every morning.
posted by charred husk at 7:28 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't do this, but I advise my parents to write their passwords down and keep them in their wallet, because they were calling me about once a month to ask me to reset something or other. If someone steals their wallets, they're in trouble anyway beyond the thief being able to read their emails to grandma or use their wifi.
posted by desjardins at 8:09 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bottom line is, don't share passwords until you're married! Same as sex, joint bank accounts, etc., etc....

...

Wow, these comments are totally shocking to me. I guess we're both major nerds and we've lived our lives online for a long time, but my husband and I have never even discussed sharing our passwords. I wouldn't dream of asking him and I would be rather taken aback if he asked me. To me it betrays an extreme lack of trust - like demanding to be allowed to read one's SO's diary.

Ditto.

I know I said above that sharing my wife's iPad password is helpful for adding/updating apps, and I also share my device logins (phone, computer) with my wife because she might need to use those devices when I'm not around (I don't carry my phone much, and we also use it as a noise machine for the baby.)

But I don't share any of my service (web mail, social networks, metafilter, last.fm, soundcloud, dropbox, etc.) passwords with her. Not a one.

Why would your spouse ever need your web mail or Facebook password? He could just log into his own account if he wanted to use the service.

I don't do this, but I advise my parents to write their passwords down and keep them in their wallet

Why not write them down and keep them in a safer place? I thought that was the accepted secure protocol. If you're really worried about someone finding a hard copy of your passwords and exploiting them, apply a simple filter like letter shifting, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on January 25, 2012


Why would your spouse ever need your web mail or Facebook password?

I get phone calls from mr. desjardins like:

"what's so-and-so's phone number, he emailed it to me yesterday"
"I'm supposed to meet such-and-such group to go hiking, what's the name of the trailhead, there's a Facebook event for it"
"can you reply to so-and-so about X"
"log into my email and see if Amazon sent that thing yet"

He has a smart phone now, but he didn't always, and anyway most of these calls originated while he was in the car or other times he didn't have access to email. I assume if he's sending/receiving super-sekrit emails, which I'm certain he's not, he would just get another email account and not tell me.
posted by desjardins at 12:56 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do not share my personal passwords. Mrs. Plinth finds that confounding. I have left a sealed envelope in our fire safe that has the following label on the outside, "open in case of the death or permanent disability of plinth". It's worked out well so far.
posted by plinth at 3:23 PM on January 25, 2012


yeah, my situation is very much like desjardins - we use our email accounts/facebooks/whatever as lockers for information we'll always have at our fingertips -but sometimes my (or his) fingertips are busy so we ask the other one to get the info for us.
posted by nadawi at 3:37 PM on January 25, 2012


I know most of my wife's passwords, and she knows most of mine.

She's the person I can trust with all my childish habits and guilty pleasures I'm afraid to reveal to anyone else. She's the person I turn to when I'm terrified or stricken with grief. I am in it for the long, adult-diapers-and-deathbed haul. Why the hell would I give two shits about whether she can read my email or not?

I can't imagine why she'd want to read my email anyway, there's nothing in there except official correspondence and password notices and spam.
posted by unigolyn at 6:18 AM on January 26, 2012


nadawi - same here. About 3 weeks ago, I entered a telephone number that was emailed to me into my iPod touch contacts, but when I got downtown and was supposed to meet said person, I realized the phone number had too many digits.

Called my wife, asked her to look in my inbox and tell me the number.
posted by unigolyn at 6:26 AM on January 26, 2012


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