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Teens Sharing Online Passwords: Devotion or Dangerous?

by RO_Admin Friends, Relationships, Sexting

Teen textingIs sharing your password with a boyfriend or girlfriend an expression of devotion or something you might later regret or both? The New York Times published this story about teenagers who share their passwords as a sign of trust. They reported that according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, "30 percent of teenagers who were regularly online had shared a password with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. The survey, of 770 teenagers aged 12 to 17, found that girls were almost twice as likely as boys to share."

With teenagers growing up living so much of their social lives online, it's easy to see how this digital act of sharing a password can take on a deeper emotional meaning. That said, couples break up, sometimes badly, as do friendships. And the article does include a few cautionary tales of password sharing gone bad, resulting in cyberbullying or spying. It makes the case that the more adults tell teenagers not do to it, the more teenagers feel like it's something they want to do.

What do you think about sharing online passwords? Have you done it before? Do you regret it or would you do it again? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Also, check out our related fact sheets about assessing your relationship (before you do anything as trusting as sharing a password!), cyberbullying and how to survive an embarrassing event just in case you shared, and it went badly!

Photo by DLSimaging

Internet Intuition

by RO_Meredith Online Networks, Relationships, Sexting

Meagan Broussard, 26, admitted it was a little “weird” when U.S. Anthony Weiner’s daily Facebook messages became less casual and more and more suggestive in tone.  She also says she knew he had to have a problem with “impulse control” when he started to send her lewd photos of himself, one of which proving he was indeed the congressman himself.  Broussard also remembers wondering how many other girls Weiner was interacting with this way. 

Broussard had a strong feeling something was just not right.  And, while we all may not be swapping messages with an elected official, we can all learn from her example by exercising caution when meeting a stranger online and trusting that “little voice” that tells us something is not quite right. Here are some ways to stay safe and follow your instincts when meeting someone new online: 

Trust your intuition

If someone seems sketchy, rude or just makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re probably right.  Even if they’re not a creepy congressman, they’re still wasting your time.  If you get that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach every time you see their name pop up on screen or read one of their messages, it’s probably time to stop responding to their messages.  Who wants to talk to someone who makes them feel uncomfortable? 

Be careful what you post

Never post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read.  Seriously.  It may sound limiting, but this will keep you from being embarrassed if the information you send is ever made public.  Also, 45% of employers will check your Facebook profile before they hire you.  So, don’t post anything that would keep you from getting the job you want to have one day, not the job you have now.  This includes pictures.

Ask for advice

Sometimes getting an outside perspective can help you think more clearly about a situation.  Find 1 or 2 people you trust and see what they have to say about the interractions you're having with someone online.  If they share your concerns, then it means you have good instincts!  If they think it's okay for you to continue, then you might reconsider.  But remember, in the end, it is your decision.  And you have the right to choose who you let into your life.   

Image by NYCArthur

What do you look for in a Facebook/Twitter friend?  How do you know when it's time to pull the plug?