Buying tech gifts for Xmas? Here’s what to think about first

December 9th, 2020

The holiday season is almost upon us and, like many parents, grandparents and other relatives, you might be planning to buy tech gifts for your teens, such as phones, ‘smart toys’, or wireless headphones. Or maybe you and your family are just planning to do your gift shopping online for convenience. Here are some steps you can take to make this go smoothly.

Buying tech presents? Do your research

Before buying a gift which connects to the internet, check out this gift guide by the eSafety Commissioner. It covers the benefits and risks of tablets, smart watches, drones, 3-D printers, VR systems, gaming headsets, and more!

And if you’re thinking of buying someone a phone, see these tips from Raising Children Network.

When deciding if your teens are ready for a certain type of tech, don’t just check the age range on the box (although this is important), but also ask yourself:

  • How easy do my teens find it to show self-control and follow reasonable rules? For example, how well do they look after their possessions? How good are they at keeping to time and remembering to do things?
  • How skilled are my teens at keeping private information to themselves? Do they understand the risks of sharing personal information and how to avoid this?
  • How good are my teens at being polite and respectful to other people? How well do they cope if someone is not nice to them?
  • How confident are my teens to ask an adult for help if something goes wrong?
  • Why do my teens want to use a certain type of tech? If they think it will help them stay close to friends, express their creative side, or learn new skills, that’s a good sign. If they think this tech will help them become famous or impress people, that’s not so promising.

For more tips, check out the eSafety resource ‘Are they old enough?’

Once you’ve bought tech gifts, it’s important to:

  • Check what personal information the product can store and who else can access it
  • Set strong passwords and usernames
  • Secure to your home network with a strong wi-fi password
  • Disable location services, voice recording, and video recording when these things are not needed.

If possible, learn to use the tech yourself, either alongside your teens or with them teaching you! Talk with your teens about how the tech works, why they enjoy it, and any problems they might have.

Bringing new tech into your home? Agree on some ground rules

Sit down with your teens and set some clear, agreed rules on how tech devices will be used in your home. It’s important to give your teens a proper say in setting these rules – that way, they’re more likely to keep to them!

Your family tech agreement might cover things like:

  • Where and when it’s OK to use tech. For example, many families agree to keep devices out of bedrooms and away from the dinner table.
  • Linking tech use to good behaviour – e.g. we only play video games after we’ve finished our homework.
  • What to do if something goes wrong online or if there’s a problem with our tech – e.g. asking for help, and reasonable consequences.

Keep your agreement fairly short, put it on display somewhere, and go back to it as a family to decide if it needs updating.

Check out further tips on setting tech boundaries with teens.

Shopping online? Watch your back…

Unfortunately, the holiday season is a busy time for scammers. According to Scamwatch, thefts via online shopping scams have increased by 42 per cent this year, with over 12,000 reports of Australians being scammed while shopping online.

Young people can be especially vulnerable to scams involving the purchase of tech products.

Common scams involve fake online stores, fake ads on classified sites like Gumtree and Facebook Messenger, and fake parcel delivery notifications via text or email, which ask for your personal details or credit card information.

Learn how to avoid the scammers, and about your rights when buying from an online business, online auction, or eBay.

And if you think you’ve been scammed, you can report it and get help here.