Online safety

Kids Online Safety: Five Handy Tips for Parents

When it comes to taking care of our children, the world can seem a very scary place – and the internet even scarier. But attempting to keep kids offline in 2022 is just not going to cut it, so how can we protect them from the darker parts of the web and ensure their online safety?

There are two simple answers to this question – knowledge and communication. If we can empower ourselves and our children with information, and ensure they come to us in situations where they feel uncertain or suspicious, these are huge steps towards cyber safety.

Educate yourself

Do you know how to stay safe online? Have you taken control of your own privacy and security settings, checked your social media conversation controls, and looked into using a password manager? The easiest place to start when it comes to cyber security is with yourself – then, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to help your kids.

Other education actions include talking to your child’s school about the online protection they offer, as well as checking out the main apps and websites your child is interested in to ensure the content is age-appropriate and to understand how they operate. 

Know – and use – parental controls

An innocent online search can quickly lead to a rabbit-hole of not-so-innocent information or images. Parental controls and search-engine filters – although not 100% accurate – can help prevent your child from accessing the majority of online violent and/or sexual material. There are free and paid options when it comes to parental controls, with different levels of protection – the Australian Government’s eSafety website has an excellent Taming the Technology section that covers protections you can access via your home wi-fi network, computers, devices, gaming consoles, smart TVs, web browsers and more.

Note that it’s a great idea to get your child on board with using these controls – discussing with them that they are age and experience appropriate, and letting them know that the use of these tools can be reviewed and changed as they get older. 

Talk openly with your kids (and get involved!)

As noted in point two, talking with your kids, and getting them on board with ensuring their own online safety, is the key here. Your child should know that they can always talk to you about something they’re unsure of online, and they should also know the responsible online behaviour you expect of them (see point four). Encouraging kids to think critically about what they read and see online and teaching them about the public and permanent nature of internet interactions gives them the power to make their own sound – and safe – decisions.

One way to have these open and supportive discussions is to get involved in your kids’ online experiences – talk about their favourite games or apps, take turns to play, and chat about the risks of the internet while you’re there in the midst of it. Talk to your kids about what you think is appropriate – and remind them that this may be different for other families.

Set some ground rules (and be prepared to stick to them!)

What these rules entail will be unique to your family and should also be tailored to the ages of your children. Some things to consider, though, include:

  • the amount time of spent online (or using devices in any manner)
  • where in the house online access can occur (common areas only, for instance)
  • the type of apps that can be accessed or websites that can be visited
  • any definite no-nos when it comes to online interactions (such as never posting or trading personal pictures, never revealing personal information, only being ‘friends’ with people you already know offline, and always telling a trusted adult about any online communication that was odd or scary).

Remember: the consequences for breaking these ground rules should be clear and discussed as a family so that everyone knows where they stand.

Lead by example

Okay, so we all know this one is the hardest, but consider making some rules for the parents too! This might include not looking at your phone during ‘family hours’ and/or switching off work alerts during the same. Don’t be a ‘do as I say, not what I do’ parent!

Need more help? Talk to the Geelong cyber-security experts

Remember, these conversations with your kids aren’t about creating anxieties in your child or preventing them from accessing the many entertainment and educational benefits of the online world. The real end goal here is to give your children the knowledge and skills to use this incredible tool in a responsible and safe manner.

For more information about keeping your children safe online, check out the government’s eSafety website for parents. The helpful team at Geelong Technology Group are also here with plenty of online and cybersecurity experience – don’t hesitate to give us a call on 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484) or drop by our store at 166 Francis Street, Belmont if you need some further advice or tech assistance.

digital wallet

What is a Digital Wallet? E-wallet Tips, Set-up and Security

So… you’ve seen people holding their phones near a payment device to purchase their latte or BLT roll, with no credit or debit card in sight (and no cash, for that matter!). You may be making your own mobile-based purchases daily, too. But what exactly is a digital wallet? And how secure is ‘e-wallet’ technology?

Digital wallets explained

A digital wallet is pretty much what it says on the box – digital storage of items that you might normally keep tucked away in your wallet or purse. Items that can be stored in a digital wallet include credit and debit cards (allowing users to make convenient payments from their phone or smartwatch), identity documents (such as Covid-19 vaccination certificates), loyalty cards (particularly helpful if you love a loyalty card, but don’t want to carry 237 of the abominable things around!), gift cards, and tickets to movies or events. Just note, however, that not all of these items can be added to all digital wallets. Restrictions may depend on what financial institution you are with, what company is issuing your virtual tickets, your choice of digital wallet, and the make of your mobile device.

Payments using your digital wallet

Other than perhaps the aforementioned loyalty card storage, digital wallets are most useful in terms of their ability to allow us to make contactless payments. Examples of digital wallets that enable tap-and-go payments at in-store terminals include Apple’s Wallet, Samsung Pay, PayPal, and Google Pay. The digital wallet stores virtual versions of your cards or account details, so you don’t need to carry a physical card, then uses software to link your payment details to the transaction vendor. Just like you would crack open your wallet to access your physical credit card when buying something, you open your digital wallet app to access your virtual payment details – then use your device to ‘tap and go’ as usual.

To get started using a digital wallet, all you need to do is choose your preferred wallet (often the built-in wallet on your mobile device or, alternatively, a (thoroughly researched) option downloaded from your app store) and add a compatible debit or credit card. Once you’re set up and out and about, open your application and move your device close to the payment machine; a message will be displayed on the machine when the payment has been approved. 

Digital wallet safety and security

What happens when you lose your real-world wallet and someone (unscrupulous) finds your debit or credit cards? They can tap-and-go, tap-and-go, tap-and-go for numerous small purchases (up to $200 a pop), without needing a PIN, until you report your card missing to your financial institution… But if you lose your phone with your digital wallet details? Well – if your phone is password or number-code protected or secured with fingerprint or face-recognition authentication – your financial details are safely locked up inside your device. Digital wallets also use advanced encryption to ensure that your payment information never leaves your device, generally making this technology the safer financial option.

Remember: once you’ve added cards to your digital wallet, make sure that you have also enabled the security features your mobile device offers, especially any biometrics including fingerprint or iris/face scanners. If your device doesn’t have these features, use a strong password, and change it often.

Stop by and see Geelong’s technology experts

With our phones now even more ubiquitous after becoming QR-code check-in experts over the past two years, payment via our mobile devices really is on the up and up. If you’re still uncertain about which digital wallet to use or how to use your phone to tap and go – feel free to ask one of our friendly technicians when you’re next in the Geelong Technology Group showroom – we are 100% here to help.

📍 166 Francis Street, Belmont 1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

online safety

Staying Safe Online – Tips for Internet Safety & Security

With so much of our time spent using the internet every day, it has never been more important to promote the safe use of technology, to build digital skills, and to help everyone have safer, more positive experiences online. Taking a leaf from the recent Safer Internet Day 2022, held on the 8th of February and celebrated in 170 countries, the following are some things we can all do to increase online safety (& kindness).

Update your security and privacy settings

Yes – we know – it’s one of those things we all mean to get around to, but don’t necessarily do… But how about this? The next time you’re sitting down with a cuppa, rather than spending five or ten minutes scrolling past images of dogs doing the darndest things or happy snaps of school friends you haven’t seen since school, why not take a moment to check the privacy settings on all of your devices and apps to improve online safety?

We recommend using different (STRONG!) passwords for each online account (and signing out each time you finish). You can also add multi-factor authentication to many apps/accounts for extra protection. Remember that social media sites also have privacy settings to help control who sees your posts and who can send you friend requests – use them!

Locate your location settings (and amend them as necessary)

While it is important for map applications and various other types of technology, GPS location information can also be used to track your movement and whereabouts. To improve online safety when using GPS:

  • Keep your devices (phones, tablets, laptops etc.) secure with strong passwords or passcodes. Do not leave your devices on the default settings, particularly the default device name and password.
  • Turn off GPS and location services when they are not in use.
  • Audit your apps to identify those that use location information and turn off those services unless they’re completely necessary. (If privacy or safety is a concern for you, do not opt into sharing your location through apps that allow location sharing with friends.)
  • Delete the location history from your phone habitually and, for iPhone users, clear out your frequent locations history also.

Manage your online engagement

Online communities and social media options can, of course, be both blessing and a curse, but you can control what you see and read online. Conversation controls are available to help you manage your social media feeds, ensuring your chosen platforms are a more positive place to spend time online. For the lowdown on how to mute, block or unfollow people across various applications, check out The eSafety Guide.

Don’t downplay or ignore online abuse

If someone said those things in a face-to-face public forum – at a bus stop, perhaps, or in line at the supermarket – would they be okay? If not, they’re not okay online either. Research shows that people, particularly women, often downplay online abuse. If you feel it is safe to do so, collect evidence of any online abuse you receive – take a screenshot and save a URL – which can then be used if you choose to report online abuse to the relevant platforms and, depending on the level of harm, to eSafety or the police.

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media sites provide community rules to follow. 

Remember: If you or someone you know sees something that’s not respectful, you can anonymously make a report and ask the site to remove it.

Contact Geelong’s technology experts to help improve your online safety.

If you’re not sure how to turn off your location information or you’d like a hand with setting up two-factor authentication on your business accounts, drop by the office or give our experienced technicians a call. We’re here to help individuals and businesses in Geelong, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Torquay, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast, Golden Plains, Colac, and Warrnambool.

1300 GET GTG (1300 438 484)

📍 166 Francis Street, Belmont