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Young people are increasingly sharing passwords to their online profiles

passwordOn January 17, 2012, New York Times published an article of Matt Richtel titled “Young, in love and sharing everything, including passwords.”

In short, this is his story:

Young couples have long signaled their devotion to each other by various means — the gift of a letterman jacket, or an exchange of class rings or ID bracelets. Best friends share locker combinations.. The digital era has given rise to a more intimate custom. It has become fashionable for young people to express their affection for each other by sharing their passwords to e-mail, Facebook and other accounts. Boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes even create identical passwords, and let each other read their private e-mails and texts.

They say they know such digital entanglements are risky, because a souring relationship can lead to people using online secrets against each other. But that, they say, is part of what makes the symbolism of the shared password so powerful.

“It is a sign of trust. I have nothing to hide from him and he has nothing to hide from me. I know he will never do anything to hurt my reputation.”- says Tiffany Carandang, a high school student from San Francisco.

Changing the password is simple, but often the damage is done before the password can be changed. The stories of fallout include a spurned boyfriend in junior high who tries to humiliate his ex-girlfriend by spreading her e-mail secrets; tensions between significant others over scouring each other’s private messages for clues of disloyalty or infidelity; or grabbing a cellphone from a former best friend, unlocking it with a password and sending threatening texts to someone else.

In a 2011 telephone survey, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 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.

Emily Cole, 16, a high school junior in Glastonbury, Conn., felt the sting of password betrayal in seventh grade, when she gave her e-mail password to her first boyfriend. Then she started to develop feelings for another student, she said, and sent an e-mail to her. Her boyfriend read the e-mail and started spreading it around the school, calling Ms. Cole a “pervert.” Ms. Cole said it was deeply hurtful. And yet, despite what happened, she said she would not have reservations about sharing her password with her new boyfriend.

Is this a healthy habit of young people, or are they doing it because the forbidden fruit is sweeter?

Read the full article in English on the New York Times website.

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