We're all guilty of sharing our Netflix or HBOGo passwords with our romantic partners and/or our besties. But Generation Z is taking the art of password-sharing to a whole new level. According to brand new data released by the Pew Research Center, today's teens are swapping their personal login information left and right.
Kids today! Sigh.
Passwords are now a form of friendship currency. The Pew research, which focused on teen social media habits and is based on focus group interviews with 70 teens aged 13 to 17, found that 1 in 5 teens has shared a social media password with a friend.
This data is consistent with past Pew Center research, which found in 2011 that 22% of teens were sharing passwords, mostly as a symbol of trust and intimacy.
"It makes me feel closer to people by letting them know I trust them with something as personal as my password," one 17-year-old girl told researchers then.
Password-sharing also seems to be a recreational activity of sorts for some teens, as one high school girl in the new study told researchers that sometimes passwords are exchanged for sport. "I know they have this game on Instagram where you'd be like, 'Do you trust me? Give me your password,'" she said, according to Pew. "'I'll post a picture and then log back off.'"
Remember when grown-ups were freaking out over teens wearing sex bracelets? Now it looks like we should start freaking out about teen cybersecurity as well.
What this says about all of us. While we may be quick to scoff at the absurdity of these youths, they may be onto something here. After all, given how many of us currently share our logins (or even our email address passwords) with our partners, there's clearly something to be said for password-sharing as a marker of intimacy, regardless of whether or not experts think it's safe or smart.
The difference, of course, is that most of us share passwords out of convenience, or maybe even frugality. But chances are the people with whom we share our passwords are the people we trust the most.
Of course, we all know that these types of intimate connections take a lot of time to grow, and trading passwords with someone just so they can put a weird selfie on your Insta probably isn't a good idea. So while password-sharing might very well be a sign of intimacy for teens and adults alike, it's probably best for all of us to be a tad more conservative about who we share our personal info with. Because if Mean Girls taught us anything, it's that your high school friends are not to be trusted.