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Getting Started on TestDrive: Usernames, Passwords, and Bios, Oh My!

Background Information

This mini-lesson will help teach kids how to choose smart usernames and passwords when they create accounts on social media sites (and other kinds of websites too). It also serves to get kids oriented on Social Media TestDrive.

Ideas and Questions for Pre-Activity Discussion

What are usernames, and why are they important?

Usernames are the way a website identifies us, and often the way we identify each other on websites. When we log into a website, we type in our username to tell it who we are. Different websites have different requirements for what your usernames can be, but most websites let us use anything we want as a username. It's important to think carefully about what username you'd like to be known by.

How do I pick a good username?

Think about the website's purpose. Is it for connecting with friends? Is it for schoolwork? Think about what name you want people on the site to know you by. If it's for something with friends, you might just use your first name or a nickname. If it's for something where you don't want anyone to know you at all, pick something anonymous but appropriate.

What are passwords, and why are they important?

Passwords are like keys that help us get into our accounts. Like the key to a safe or a locker, only the people who know what the key is can get inside the account.

How do I pick a good password?

We want to pick passwords that will be easy for us to remember, so that we don't get locked out of our accounts. But we also want to make it hard for others to guess our passwords. People are good at making educated guesses, so to protect our passwords from people, it's smart to make your password something that isn't obvious or easy to guess. Computers can guess peoples' passwords too. In fact, they can make many guesses in a short period of time, so they're often better at breaking inside your "safe" than people are. To make your password hard for a computer to guess, it's a good idea to make it long.

Sometimes it's hard to make a password that's both hard to guess and easy to remember. Some ideas for doing this include writing a phrase or sentence (including spaces or punctuation) rather than a single word. Another good technique is to take a sentence that you'll remember and making your password the first letter of each word in the sentence, for example.

What are display names and photos?

Most websites will allow users to attach names and photos to their accounts. This helps personalize your account, and it helps other people on the site get an impression of who you are. Some people choose to use their real names and photos. Others choose just their first names, or names they make up based on their interests. The same thing goes for photos — you can choose a picture of yourself, or you can pick another photo that you like.

What other information about myself can I share?

Many websites will allow you to create a profile that includes your name, photo, and other information about you. In many cases, other people can visit your profile to learn about you. This website will let you add as much information about yourself as you would like, including your location. How much information you enter is up to you.

Activity

Step 1: Finding the Webpage. Go to learnlove.life on the computer and browser that your instructor tells you to use. Once you get there, click the "Create Account" button at the top of the screen.

Step 2: Pick a username. Think about the name you'd like the site to know you by. What kind of information would you like your username to contain?

Step 3. Pick a password. Think about the tips you just heard for creating good passwords. How will you choose a password that you can remember, but that will be hard for others to guess?

Step 4. Pick a display name and photo. What name and photo do you want other people who are using the site to see? How do you want them to think of you? How much information do you want to share about yourself?

Step 5. Set a location and bio. Decide whether you want to tell other users of the site about yourself, such as what your interests are and where you live.

Step 6. Review all of the information you entered. This is how all of the other users of the site will see you. What do you think about your online profile? Why did you choose to show or not show the information that you did?

Step 7. Practice logging in and logging out again. Go to the top of the page and click "Log Out". Then enter your new username and password on the first screen to re-enter the site. Were you able to log in correctly?

When students are done setting up their accounts and are sure they can log in correctly, they will be able to access the other three TestDrive modules (self-presentation, cyberbullying, and information literacy).