13 May 2020

Zooming in on new technology

There is no doubt the COVID-19 lockdown has taken our lives even more online. Not just to check our emails, order the groceries or watch a movie on Netflix, but now even for the bedrocks of our social lives – a Friday night wine with friends, ‘face-to-face’ catch-ups, or even just to hang out with the grandkids.

But if you have not used video calling or conferencing much before, it can all get a bit overwhelming. Someone wants to talk to you on Zoom and you’ve only just got your head around Skype. Then your phone rings and someone wants to FaceTime you.

Well never fear, help is at hand. Netsafe, which offers online safety advice, has put together a straight-forward guide for getting started with video calling and doing it safely.

The key message is that just like your landline, emails and texts, you still need to be on your guard for scams, the most common of which will want to lead you off to a fake website where they can swindle you out of money, get your financial details, or download malware on your computer. Netsafe’s advice is that if you are sent a message encouraging you to click on a link, ignore it, regardless of what it says in the text.

Instead, go to the website it purports to be from yourself (not using the link) and see if it is legitimate. Use a new internet browser window to do this. If the organisation the message says it is from doesn’t have a website to go to, ring them and ask if the message is genuine. For more details on keeping safe, check out Netsafe’s information on this.

Scams aside, video calling is a great tool and there are a plethora of apps and websites available to you. Netsafe have provided advice on how to get started with the main ones, including:

You can also find out more from Netsafe about the relative newcomer on the video calling scene – Houseparty - which has picked up steam internationally during the lockdown.

Now get out there – by getting online!

Getting started with Facebook Messenger

  • Download the app for iOS or Android, or go to the website here
  • You can sign up by registering your information or you can skip this step if have a Facebook account already
  • Sign in to the app or website using your account
  • If you haven’t enabled it already, you can make the account more secure with two-factor authentication by following these instructions
  • Once you’re set up you can use your contact list to find your friends and family
  • You can find tips for staying safe when using Facebook Messenger on the Safety Centre

Getting started with FaceTime

FaceTime is different to other messaging services in that you will need an Apple device like an iPhone, iPad or Macbook to use the service.

  • On an iPhone or iPad it’s as simple as opening the FaceTime app and adding your iCloud account. You’ll be able to use FaceID or TouchID to do this if you’ve already set it up on the device
  • On a Mac computer you’ll need to open the FaceTime app and login using your iCloud email address and password
  • To make the FaceTime call, search for the name of the person you’re wanting to connect with and then select Audio or Video call

Getting started with Skype

  • Download the app for iOS or Android, or go to the website here.
  • After opening the app, it will prompt you to create an account. If you have a Microsoft/Hotmail/ Outlook account, you can use this to sign in to Skype.
  • Sign in to the app using your account.
  • If you use a Microsoft account to log in to Skype, you can make the account more secure with two-factor authentication by following these instructions.
  • Once you’re set up you can search for friends and family who already use Skype
  • You can read tips for staying safe from Skype here.

Getting started with Zoom

Zoom operates ‘meeting rooms’. You don’t need an account to join a Zoom call just a meeting ID sent by your friend or whānau. Get into Zoom with Netsafe’s advice.

  • Open your web browser (Chrome/Safari/Internet Explorer)
  • Go to
  • Enter your meeting ID provided by your host
  • Click Join
  • If this is your first time joining, you will be asked to open the Zoom client to join the meeting.
  • Click ‘Open Zoom Meetings’

To host a meeting, you will need to create an account

  1. Download the app for iOS or Android, or go to the website here
  2. After opening the app, click Sign In
  3. You can use Google or Facebook to log in to Zoom, otherwise click Sign Up for Free
  4. Once you’ve logged in, click the downward arrow and select Start with video
  5. Click New Meeting to start an instant meeting

You can make your account more secure with two-factor authentication by following these instructions