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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Sam Boal/ Some events like Dublin Digital Day (pictured) and Age Action teach older generations how to use technology, but not everyone has access to these classes.
# helping hand
Know anyone who isn't tech-savvy? This is how you can help them this Christmas
It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

SINCE YOU’RE HOME for Christmas, chances are you’re seeing friends or family members who, despite their best intentions, wouldn’t be the savviest when it comes to technology.

For the most part, this is understandable. For some people, thinking about security or how something works is a distance thought when your main focus is just using their smartphone or laptop.

The problem with this is we only start thinking about these things when something goes wrong.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help them out. But first:

  • Always ask for permission before doing anything. Even if you think it’s fine, it’s good manners to ask.
  • Explain the reasons behind each action, even if it’s seems obvious.
  • Be patient. Sometimes, you may be tempted to take over and do things yourself but guiding them through the process is recommended.
  • Be prepared for questions – they are a good thing as it shows they want to learn.
  • Have a notepad handy so you can jot down notes for any major thing that comes up so they can use it as a reminder when you’re not around.

1) Check/Update their phone and PC/laptop software

One of the easiest ways you can keep devices safe is to make sure you’re using the latest version. Some like Windows offer updates automatically while others like Apple iOS will prompt you to update every now and again. Still, there are many people who are using older versions which are more vulnerable to malware.

iOSSettings > General > Software Update
AndroidSettings > About Phone/Tablet > System Updates (Official location may differ from device to device)
Windows 10Start > Settings > Update and Security > Windows Update*
MacOpen up Mac Store -> Updates

Remember that you won’t be able to use your device while it’s updating so save it for non-busy times.

* If the device runs an older version of Windows (7, 8, 8.1 or, god forbid, XP), either advise them to upgrade to 10, or use an alternative device (phone, tablet, Chromebook) if upgrading isn’t possible.

Apple Counterfeit Lawsuit Kiichiro Sato / Press Association Images Kiichiro Sato / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

2) Update WiFi firmware and change passwords

While you mightn’t think it, WiFi modems also require software to run properly and updates to help protect it from being compromised or other people from connecting to it without your permission. Accessing it is relatively simple, log into your browser and type in these codes into your address bar:

eir - (for third-party modems, use
Virgin Media -
Sky -

After that, type in your username and password. What that is will depend on the type of modem you’re using (further details for each one can be found here).

Here you can change your login details as well as install any firmware updates.

3) Install virus protection and scan devices

This is more relevant for PCs and laptops instead of smartphones but many security changes are irrelevant if a device is already infected. It’s not a bad idea to install something like Bitdefender, Avira, or AVG and scan a device in case there’s something amiss.

Also, it’s worth reiterating that there’s no such thing as 100% security and the older something is, be it software or hardware, the more vulnerable it is. It’s essential to stay one step ahead of this and explaining how to check this is important.

4) Check lock screen security on their devices

While unlocking phones is handier thanks to things like fingerprint scanners, some people forego using the lock screen completely. Make sure they’re using PIN, passwords or fingerprint scanners, anything that prevents anyone from unlocking it

Go through features like auto-lock (the length of time it takes for a phone to lock when left dormant) as it’s easy to forget.

Tech Samsung Store Richard Drew / Press Association Images Richard Drew / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

5) Set up Find my Phone/laptop 

Another action that can be completed relatively quickly. There is no reason why this and the ability to locate, ring or wipe your phone remotely is a useful option to have.

iOS – Sign into iCloud.
Android – Download into Google Device Manager and sign in.
Windows – Settings > Update and Security

While the legality of recovering your phone through this process isn’t as straightforward as you might think, the ability to wipe it remotely or ring it still makes it worthwhile.

img2.thejournal Google Google

6) Back up their phone data

One of the most annoying things that can happen is losing your data. Regardless of how it happens – theft, loss or your device failing – it pays to have your contacts, messages and other important information backed up.

Depending on the device, you can either use iCloud, your Google account or Windows backup to do this. For specific apps like WhatsApp, you should check its settings to see if there’s a backup option.

7) Check accessibility features

Accessibility features may be aimed at those who are unable to use a phone like normal but even those who might not suffer from a condition can find certain accessibility features useful.

Alongside options like inverted colour, things like larger text or a touch delay might help them out. For example, iOS has a zoom mode hidden in Settings > Display which blows up text and icons a little. It might not change their world, but it will make things easier for them.

Also remember that for Android devices, you can download different launchers like Wiser or Nokia Z Launcher which are easier to use.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-09-52-03 Wizer / Google Play Launchers like Wizer can simplify Android devices so they're easier to use. Wizer / Google Play / Google Play

8) Sort out account security

One of the easiest ways to improve account security is to start using two-factor authentication, a process that requires you to use a randomised code from an app to log into your account.

This shouldn’t be used in place of a strong password which is key to protecting accounts.

Creating strong passwords is easy, but remembering them is the hard part. There are two ways to get around this. The recommended step is to use a password manager like 1Password, LastPass, Sticky Password or KeePass, which create random, complex passwords and takes the work out of remembering them.

Another option is to write down said passwords and store them in a safe place. There are obvious cons to this – if you’re prone to losing items or live with people you don’t trust, then it’s best not to do this – but the chances of anyone breaking into your house so they can steal a piece of paper isn’t likely.

The biggest threat is a hacker remotely breaking into an account because a person used a weak password like ‘1234567’. Strong passwords should be a major priority and a password manager is your safest (and easiest) bet.

9) Teach them about what signs to look out for

The methods used to trick people into handing over personal information and details is well documented, but with these attempts becoming more sophisticated, it’s harder for even experienced users to spot when something is a scam.

Take some time to explain the different ways you can check out something first:

- Check who is sending the email and the address. An official company using a @gmail or @outlook address is usually a warning sign.


- Usually, such scams try to impersonate an official company (online banking, Amazon, Apple, etc.) and feature details that may look similar to an official email. Show them what an official email looks like first so they can spot any irregularities.

- If it’s a company or name you’re not familiar with, Google them first to see if they’re legitimate. Don’t just settle for the first result you see either.

- Don’t trust pop-up ads. They usually bring you to a false or misleading site.

- Don’t click on any links from unsolicited mail.

- Likewise, tell them about official signs that show their information is safe. If you’re shopping online, never enter personal info into anything that doesn’t have a HTTPS sign. Also, check for a physical address and phone number, reviews and other details that verify them.

10) And for everything else…

Let them play around with it and see what it can do. For sake of argument, if they’re learning to use a messaging service like WhatsApp, let them send messages to you and experience how it works.

You learn faster when you’re doing something and while you might have to be on call for any potential questions, they will get the hang of it. Just remember to be patient and it will be worth it in the end.

Read: Netflix users can now download films and TV shows >

Read: Scammers using Whatsapp and Daft to extort money from desperate renters >

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