KidzPass: authenticating pre-literate children

Michaela Stewart, Mhairi Campbell, Karen Renaud*, Suzanne Prior

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Many online services require users to authenticate themselves to prove their identity. Text-based passwords are the most widely-used authentication mechanism. Yet a number of population groups struggle with text-based passwords. One of these groups is made up of children aged 3-5. This is an important sector of society, because many of these children use the Internet at home. This was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young children can struggle with text-based passwords due to their emerging literacy and immature development. The majority of children do not learn to read fluently until age seven. At age four or five, they generally do not have the required skills to create, retain and manage alphanumeric passwords. This might well leave young children vulnerable when online or impose unrealistic demands on their care givers who support them in authenticating themselves.
Here, we report on the development and evaluation of two versions of KidzPass, a graphical authentication mechanism that specifically relies on the abilities 3-5 year old children can be expected to possess. We conclude by reporting on lessons learned about designing authentication for this target user group.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2020 IFIP 8.11/11.13 Dewald Roode Information Security Research Workshop
EditorsAnthony Vance
PublisherIFIP Working Group 8.11/11.13
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2020
Event2020 Dewald Roode Workshop on Information Systems Security Research - virtual conference, Ames, United States
Duration: 2 Oct 20203 Oct 2020
Conference number: 12th


Workshop2020 Dewald Roode Workshop on Information Systems Security Research
Abbreviated titleDRW2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Children
  • Authentication
  • Evaluation


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