A new study shows that its rather common for teens to share their Facebook, email, and Twitter passwords with each other as a sign of trust. It found that almost one-third of teens who regularly use the the internet (which means, my guess is, all of them) shares their passwords with a significant other. Some couples create identical passwords and float in and out of each others accounts, while many young girls have replaced those old “Best Friends” lockets for the exchange of password info. In fact, girls are more than twice as likely to share their information as boys are.

Common sense says that password sharing is just a new form of intimacy that was an inevitable part of the rise of digital media. When I was in high school I had no passwords to share, but if I did I might have been silly enough to give mine to my best friend. But there’s something strange about laying a foundation in romantic relationships that goes beyond demonstrating trust to limiting privacy. The obvious response “well, if you’re not doing anything sneaky then you wouldn’t mind your boyfriend or girlfriend seeing what you do” doesn’t quite solve the problem for me.

As tempting as it is to see this study as a reflection of the random things teenagers do, I am confident that this phenomenon exists in the 18 and older crowd as well. I’m not even fully sold on the idea of giving my passwords up to my future husband, but I did date a guy who was very loose with his password, an oversight of his that made it impossible not to take a peek when I knew he was up to no good. On the other hand, I also dated a dude who lied about having a girlfriend and I eventually found out that not only was he full of lies but he had been calling me from a cell phone that he shared with his girl. So whether you only share body fluids and dreams for the future or whether you throw in digital passwords, social security numbers —  hell even bank information — it seems that the shady ones will be the shady ones with whatever ammunition they can get their hands on. But where does trust end and foolishness begin?

What do you think? Do you share your passwords with anyone? 

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  • Candy 1

    My husband has the passwords to my Facebook and most of my email accounts (and obviously my bank account). It’s not so much a thing of trust, but he has had to access my email for me while I was away and had no internet access, but I also didn’t change them after he signed in, either. I don’t care if he knows them. Despite all that, I don’t think sharing or not sharing passwords makes a difference in trustworthiness because people can always make alternative/secret email accounts.

  • OhMyEyes

    Teens are forever doing careless shit. I wonder what it will be next.

  • t

    And we wonder how compromising photos of teenage girls constantly leak on the web these days? Well, here’s how! They’re foolish enough to share their Facebook/Twitter/email passwords with people they barely know well enough to trust THAT much, and when there’s a fallout with their bffs/boyfriends, what do you think those vindictive bastards will do?

    I don’t buy into that “well, if you’re not doing anything sneaky then you wouldn’t mind your boyfriend or girlfriend seeing what you do” BS. Being in a relationship does mean being open with one another on most things, but it doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a reasonable expectation of privacy. If you’re worried that your significant other might cheat on you, well snooping through his emails won’t stop him/her. A relationship without trust is a doomed one.

  • Humanista

    Nooooo sir this is no good. Teens are often outlandish anyway (it’s life, they’re learning), so with the lines between trust and control so very blurred for MANY adults, this seems like a sure-fire way for teens to set themselves up for less-than-healthy situations. Why does the boy/girl-friend need to have you p/w? To check up on you at leisure to make sure they can still trust you? Red flag, particularly as a prerequisite for a romantic relationship.

    My parents don’t share passwords, and I’ve never shared w/ a significant other. If kids are starting out believing that forfeiture of privacy to just any old dude/chick is how to “earn” trust, that’s scary to me. NOT a standard I would want my own kids establishing for themselves.