Science & Technology



Jim Rossman: When is it OK to share your passcode?


Published in Science & Technology News

If you’re incapacitated or die, someone needs to know how to get into your phone and other devices.

Today’s tech issue comes from my family, and I want to mention it so it doesn’t happen to you.

My Aunt Sharon became ill and was hospitalized back in January 2020.

She never married, so several of her nieces and nephews began helping her navigate through a maze of hospitals, rehab facilities and finally a nursing home.

She had a very old Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S3), and she’d been through several iPads. She had purchased her latest iPad in 2019.

My cousins and I teamed up to help Aunt Sharon stay connected to the outside world, which was a challenge once COVID-19 became an issue. Suddenly, nobody could visit to help her in person.


Aunt Sharon was a smart person, but as she got older, she needed some additional tech help. After she left her home, she was moved between several facilities, but during that entire time she could have no visitors.

If we needed to help her with a Facebook login issue, we’d have to have a hospital or nursing home employee bring the iPad to the lobby, make the fix and then send it back to her. It was a pain, but it worked.

There were half a dozen of us on her family tech squad. Since she lived in suburban Chicago, I was able to provide only remote assistance. My cousins and their children were able to help directly.

Unfortunately, Aunt Sharon died a few months ago, and her funeral was finally held last week. Afterward, I asked a cousin what became of Sharon’s iPad.


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