Pause to talk about sharing passwords

The Dilemma

Like many teens, 13-year-old Briana watches Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services a lot more than she watches traditional cable TV. The anytime, anywhere nature of streaming fits her lifestyle, and she loves that she can share her login credentials — OK, her parents’ login credentials — with her friends. She figures that’s a fair tradeoff since they let her use their Spotify and Apple Music logins.

Everything was fine until her dad opened Netflix one day and saw a string of R-rated movies and TV-MA shows in his viewing history — movies and shows he hadn’t watched. Not able to come up with a plausible excuse, Briana admits that her former friend Maggie, whom she hasn’t talked to in months, is likely the guilty party. When her dad says that Briana’s sharing is wrong, she reminds him that her 24-year-old brother, Billy, is still using the family Netflix account. Besides, she says, it’s her dad’s own fault because he never turned on the account’s parental controls. Dad responds by saying that’s unnecessary because he’s canceling all the family’s streaming services immediately.

Who’s right? And how can Briana and her dad resolve this situation?

For Discussion

Read the dilemma aloud with your youth and then discuss these questions:

  • Is it ethical to share your family’s streaming accounts with friends? Explain your answer.
  • What about family members who are away at college? What about family members who are now living on their own? Explain your answer.
  • If you aren’t sure whether sharing is ethical, how can you find out for sure? (Hint: Check the terms of service.)
  • Assume for the moment that Briana’s sharing is wrong. Does it make any difference that her brother is also on the account? Why or why not? Is she any less guilty because her dad failed to turn on parental controls? Why or why not?
  • How much responsibility does Briana share for her friend Maggie’s actions? Explain your answer. Would your answer be different if Briana had asked Maggie not to watch any adult content? Why or why not? Would your answer be different if Briana had already known Maggie was watching adult content? Why or why not?

Finally, discuss ways Briana and her dad could resolve this situation.

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