Teens in Love Share Everything, Even Passwords

I’m more techy than my husband. Every once in a while, I need to help him with some snafu that involves his email or a social media account. A procedure that involves quietly looking away while he logs in with his secret password.

We have three kids and a mortgage. We share a bed and a car. We’ve given each other the legal right to make life and death medical decisions for each other.

But we don’t share passwords to our personal email accounts.

That sets us apart from a lot of teenagers, it turns out. High school sweethearts are trading their email and Facebook passwords the way kids back in the day swapped class rings as a sign of commitment.

The difference is that sharing a password is a lot more dangerous than sharing jewelry.

Teens who share passwords with their sweethearts run the risk of suddenly having an ex with access to their most personal information.

When relationships sour, things can get messy fast. The New York Times reports on kids who have been embarrassed by exes sharing their personal email with classmates, had a former friend impersonate them to send threatening messages to a third kid, and been locked out of their own accounts.

Why would anyone share their password?

Teens who do this view it as a sign of trust and love: you’re proving to your partner that you have no secrets. There’s also a thrill of risk to it: their parents and teachers are telling them not to, so there’s something a little naughty about doing it together in secret.

Jezebel likens password sharing to sex for some teens, saying:

On one level that is ridiculous because, well, sex is sex, and password sharing is typing a sequence of letters and numbers. But on another level, the comparison is sadly apt: they’re both forbidden, frowned upon by adults, and make you feel vulnerable. Oh, and there’s even peer pressure to do them both!

Point taken: teens share passwords because they want to share an intimate thrill with the kids they’re closest to.

They’re also often pressured to do it, and the exchange isn’t always mutual. The NYT reports that girls are twice as likely as boys to share their passwords. That’s a disturbing thought, since it suggests girls are making themselves vulnerable in non-reciprocal relationships.

Would you share your email password with a boyfriend or girlfriend? Does the thought of your kids doing it give you the creeps? Or is this just a sign of modern love?

Photo: Marc Falardeau

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