Students at several Collin County schools have discussed the importance of using safe passwords and being careful when working or playing online.

Sloan Creek Middle School in the Lovejoy Independent School District spent a few days during the first week back to class to discuss these topics.

Students often have several passwords to remember at school. They may have a password for school, email (if they have it), databases and other web programs. Many also have personal online accounts for games, social media, email and more that need strong passwords to deter outside hackers.

The Texas State Library Archives Commission offers tips on creating a Strong Password.

1. 7-12 characters in length.

2. Lower case, upper case, numbers and special characters.

3. Avoid words which can be found in a dictionary.

4. Avoid names and birthdays of loved ones or other easy to guess personal information.

5. If you must write it down, keep it in a safe and secure place.

6. DO NOT tell anyone your password! But you can tell your parents.

7. Use more than one password.

8. Try not to use your student ID# as a password.

9. Create a phrase like (IneedpiZZAASAP13) and use parts of it along with numbers and/or special characters.

Examples: Passwords Are Hard For Me To Remember 78 could be: pahfmtr78; Once Upon A Time could be: ouat_5356

Microsoft offers an online program that tests the strength of passwords, click here to test your password.

Click on the next page to read a couple of scenarios. Use them this soon at the dinner table or in the car to discuss cyber safety.


Family Scenario No. 1:

A student comes home and says that they think someone has hacked into his online H drive and deleted his assignment. Talk about how that could have happened with the student.

•  Did they leave their computer logged on accidently? Students always should log off the computer when they are finished using the computer.

•  Did they give out their password to anyone?

•  Did they think someone looked on as they were typing their password? It is polite to turn your head if you are observing that someone is typing a password. It is acceptable to politely ask the onlooker to turn their head as you type in a password.

•  Did they have a secure password or is it a generic password like "1234567" that anyone could figure out?


Family Scenario No. 2:

A student tells their parent that their Facebook account has been hacked or someone used their Instagram or Facebook account and posted things they did not post. How do you think that happened? Discuss how to keep information secure.

If this happens, here are suggested ways to help your child.

•  Help your child to check and reset privacy settings on the website.

•  Help your child to change their password to a secure password.

•  Help your child to delete the posting and apologize online for the error, if needed.

•  Do not use an automatic login on social media websites, especially on your cell phone. Be sure and log out of a social media website each time.

•  Secure cell phones with a secure password.

Keep a file of passwords for your child, especially if they frequently forget their passwords. Help your child create strong passwords that they can remember.