This blog post is written in partnership with LastPass. All opinions are my own.
A parent’s job is to teach their kids how to take care of themselves, in age-appropriate lessons that last pretty much their whole lives. We start small: Toddlers learn how to brush their teeth, school age kids learn how to bandage a boo-boo and eat a balanced diet. As they get older, we help them navigate peer pressure, make good decisions about drugs and alcohol. By the time they leave our homes, they’re ready to to live life on their own: We know they’ll make mistakes along the way, just like we all did, but if we’ve done our job right, they’re equipped to find their way.
So what happens when, between generations, technology has become so pervasive that it is simply an inevitability, but for us it all feels ever-changing and impossible to keep up with?
How can parents make sure they’re equipped to be teachers, to build in those lessons through childhood about life online, when they’re often not sure what those lessons should be in the first place?
Passwords are one of those online nuisances that many adults fail to manage with ease. Most people I speak to sheepishly admit that they either use the same password for way too many websites (a big no-no), or they write everything down on a paper that would be way too easy for someone to find… and wreak havoc on their life.
LastPass is a password management app I’ve been aware of for years (they were the subject of a throwback Digitwirl video you can watch here!). When they reached out to let me know that they were launching LastPass Families, I wanted to help them spread the word for two reasons:
- Password management is a topic that parents don’t often discuss with their kids, and
- In setting up the system to manage passwords for their family, parents will no doubt be inspired to improve their own password behavior.
Let’s talk about LastPass’ system for managing passwords first, and then we’ll get into the Families features. When it comes to shopping, banking, checking email, or pretty much doing anything online, the biggest pain is dealing with passwords.
If you create complex passwords (random strings of letters and numbers) it’s impossible to remember them without writing them down, which can open you up to security risks.
If you use a memorable password over and over, that’s even worse— if someone discovers your password on a low-security site, and then tries it on your banking website… well, that’s going to be a bad day too.
The best solution is to use a password manager like LastPass: A bank-level security address book where you keep all your passwords under lock and key— one master password gets you in to see them all, so that’s the only one you need to remember. The best feature? Browser extensions and smartphone apps make it easy and log into each website for you. So your password can be as complex as you like, because you never have to remember it, or type it out. LastPass can store other secure information too, like addresses and credit card information, which makes shopping a breeze (one or two taps, and your shipping address, billing address and credit card numbers are automatically filled out for you), and you never have to worry about prying eyes— you can set LastPass to lock after each use, which makes them more secure than most browser keychains.
About LastPass Families
LastPass’ system works really well for one person. But I find that I am never managing passwords for just myself: I keep some of my husbands passwords in my password manager (so I can, say, pay the electrical bill, or view our shared credit card statements), and I also keep passwords for my parents (who, even though I’ve set up password managers for them, always call me first). And now that my kids are getting older, and starting to set up email, social media, streaming media, school and shopping accounts, they need to start managing their own systems, so LastPass Families couldn’t have come at a better time.
The way it works is in addition to having your own LastPass account, you can setup 5 family members with their own LastPass account as well. You have access to unlimited shared folders where you can organize and share passwords with multiple members of your family, so they only see the passwords you want them to see. I have a folder for Annie and a folder for Spencer, and settings make it easy to show them both only the passwords that are relevant to them. I can keep the rest of the passwords in my vault private. They can then download the app, and begin making sure that as they set up new accounts online, they’re adding the information into LastPass for safekeeping.
Right now, they’re still young enough that I am still closely monitoring their online life— so no passwords are private— but when they’re adults, they’ll be able to put more things into their LastPass account that I can’t see, and I’ll know that I’ve helped them build the discipline of keeping their passwords safe, which is part of my job to get them ready for adulting on their own. LastPass’ built-in password generator creates complicated passwords for you whenever you’re creating a new login, so the kids learn early on that if a password is memorable, it isn’t that safe, and that a complex string is much better.
LastPass Families is $48 per year, billed annually. That lets you add up to six family members, so for most, that should be enough room to manage your kids, spouse, and maybe a parent or two. Before you tell me how sick you are of paying fees for everything online, let me prompt you to think about some not-fun things, like: Identity Theft. Credit card fraud. Your email being hacked. Your bank account being compromised.
None of that sounds like a good time, and much of it can be prevented by having strong passwords, stored safely. Isn’t this safety precaution precisely what you should be paying for? Not only is it critical for you, but a great lesson you can pass on to your kids about investing in your personal safety and digital hygiene.
Not to mention the great feeling you get when you can actually feel confident that you’ve got this digital life thing down, and model that confidence for your kids?
Do you struggle to manage passwords? Have you had the password talk with your kids? Let me know where you’ve gotten stuck in the comments.
Thanks to LastPass for partnering on this important post. For more information about LastPass Families, click here.