Do your kids have secret pass codes on their phones, tablets and other devices?
But wait, I confess, I’m misleading you. Our kids don’t have pass codes that are secret from *US*–only everybody else.
Why Your Kids SHOULD Have Secret Pass Codes on Their Phones
We’ve reached the point now where all three of our children have some kind of device to be responsible for, that they could choose to be irresponsible with, and they could choose to (try to) lock and keep secret from us.
When they first got their own phone, or tablet, or whatever, the kids of course wanted to put their own lock codes in. You know, to keep nosy siblings out of their stuff. My initial response was, “no pass codes!” (Especially given the possibility of permanently locking oneself out of the device completely.)
Later, however, I changed my mind and decided that all the kids needed a “family pass code,” and let me tell you why.
What the Pass Codes are NOT:
- Pass Codes are NOT a way to keep things secret from the parents.
- Pass Codes are not even a way to keep nosy siblings off their things (there are several issues there that require parental, um, parenting, rather than the easy answer of a pass code.)
- Pass Codes are NOT to be shared with anyone, ever, not even the bestest friend you’ve known since you were born who is basically like a sister and would never ever do anything wrong with your phone. Ever.
Simple enough, right?
So what, then, are the pass codes for, exactly? Like I said, “everybody else.”
Pass Codes Help Protect Your Kids and Their Phones (Tablets, Etc.)
- A family pass code is a shared pass code that everyone in the household knows, and all the kids have on their devices.
- Family pass codes do allow family members (even siblings) to access devices if they need to. Note: “Need to” is open to interpretation, and this is where more parenting comes in.
- Family pass codes do not allow mischievous friends or random kids at school, church, etc, to have access to the phone to take inappropriate pictures, send inappropriate texts, or otherwise be irresponsible with the device my child is responsible for.
- A family pass code requires the friend to ask my child to to unlock the phone so they can call their parent or look something up, reminding my child to be responsible with their phone, consider who they hand it to, and giving my child the opportunity to choose not to give access at all.
- If a family pass code is compromised, everyone gets a new family pass code. (This encourages the kids to not give the pass code out because they know would give the code to all the kid devices, and they would all have to be changed.)
Why do you need a pass code at all? Am I just being paranoid and overprotective?
Maybe I am. But first of all, if all the kids have a family pass code then I always know what the code is for my kid’s device. They can’t have their own code and keep me out.
But more importantly, I have friends, in real life, who have had experiences where a child’s friend picked up a phone and took an inappropriate photo, or sent a hateful text to someone “as a joke.” It was a great source of grief for those sweet kids. And there are always those “friends” tho think it’s funny to do stuff like that. But it’s easy to avoid. I have no doubt that if my daughter made friends with that kind of person, and she didn’t give them access to their phone, she would be made fun of and ridiculed by that mean-spirited person. But she would be more horrified to find indecent pictures or find nasty texts to someone she cares about.
And this brings me back around to my point: kids should have secret pass codes on their phones. They are just learning to navigate the online, digital, connected world. They are learning to be responsible and wise with their phones and tablets. But they’re still learning and not all-knowing. They need the transparency with the family, and the boundaries with the friends.
So my kids have secret pass codes. They are not secret from my husband or myself. They are all the same, and all the kids know them. They are not allowed to give them to their friends. This is one of the ways that we are helping our kids learn how to grow up in the connected world of today while giving them some guidelines and structure as they grow.
Do your kids have pass codes on their phones? Why or why not?
Image Credits, Public Domain: Petr Kratochvil