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Tips on how to stay safe and avoid being scammed this Christmas

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Gadgets make great gifts. Are you getting or giving a new device this Christmas? Looking for a little online entertainment over the break? The Department of Internal Affairs has some tips on how to stay safe and avoid being scammed.

Mobile devices are popular Christmas gifts, especially for young people. But they can also be platforms for bullying, and recent research by the Office of the Film and Literature Classification shows that pornography is freely available.

"Mobile devices are great tools for our young people to keep in touch with friends, use helpful apps and find information. But the evolution of technology is so rapid and brings real risks to safety, and that means that we need to be more vigilant," says Jolene Armadoros, Digital Safety Group Director.

"Set expectations with the children and young people in your care about how they can responsibly use technology, enjoy it and keep themselves safe. Understand what they do online. Teach them about how to protect themselves and their information online by using good passwords, that not everything is as it seems online and what they can do if they see something that bothers them."

"Why not try some of the apps and social media sites that your kids are using for yourself so you understand how they work. It’s also a good idea to set a good example on your own social media accounts - you can’t expect your children to behave well when you’re blasting Uncle Dave on Facebook."

You’ll find more tips for keeping young people safe online, at www.netsafe.org.nz.

The online world can also be full of fish-hooks for adults.

Director of Gambling, Chris Thornborough is cautioning Kiwis about using overseas gambling websites over the break.

"Some Kiwis may be interested in dabbling in online gambling as a bit of fun. But people need to appreciate the dangers of going online to gamble."

"There are plenty of dodgy online operators around the world using gambling to attract and trap unsuspecting players. These operators exist in unregulated or under-regulated places and can be run by criminal organisations or hackers looking to steal from you, hack you or simply cheat you."

"If you want to gamble over the holidays, there are options available in New Zealand such as pokie machines in clubs and pubs, TAB, Lotto, as well as five casinos. Local gambling is well-regulated and is backed by New Zealand law."

Mr Thornborough says it’s difficult for most New Zealanders to tell whether an overseas site is legitimate or dodgy.

"The best option to stay safe is to avoid online gambling entirely. But if you do gamble online take prudent steps to protect yourself online and do your research on the provider before you give away any details."

"For people struggling to control their gambling, instead of going online, seek help. There are treatment and support options to help people who think they have a gambling problem."

For more information about identifying and dealing with problem gambling, visit www.dia.govt.nz/services-casino-and-non-casino-problem-gambling.

Netsafe’s top tips for keeping kids safe online

Set expectations - Talk to your child about how long they should spend online, what apps and social media sites you’d like them to use and what is appropriate content to view.

Understand what they do online - Talk to your kids about what they’re using the internet for.

What’s involved? Who’s in their network? What information do they share?

If you don’t understand it, try it -Explore the websites and apps your child uses, and take the time to read terms and conditions. Ask them to show you how it works, as a way to start conversation around online safety.

Set a good example - How often do you use your phone? How many angry posts have you published? Take a look at the way you use technology. If you see something that troubles you - change it.

Teach them the basics - Strong password, privacy settings and that not everything is as it seems - people aren’t always who they say they online.

Set up social media - The minimum sign up age for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube is 13. Help your child set up social media accounts, friend or follow them, show them privacy settings, and how to block and report content.

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