How To |

How to keep up with your teens online 

By Luke Hopewell June 11, 2021

It goes without saying that it’s easier to keep up to speed with what teenagers are doing IRL than on the internet. If IRL (internet slang for ‘in real life’) left you scratching your head, you aren’t alone.

Our latest research found one-in-three Australians don’t feel they can keep up with or understand the latest online and social media trends popular with teens.

Not only are Aussies finding it hard to keep up, but 43% of parents of 8-15 year olds also don’t feel strongly confident having conversations with their children around setting boundaries for tech and social media use.

Having “the talk” with your kids these days is more than it used to be. You used to be have hours of child-friendly, regulated content to entertain your kids after school. But in the age of devices, parents can no longer be laissez-faire about the digital habits of their kids.

To help parents who feel like they’re falling behind get up to speed with the latest social media and tech trends tweens and teens are following, we are bringing together a panel of experts to share their knowledge in a free webinar, ‘Keeping Up With Teen Tech’.

Hosted by Em Rusciano, the virtual event is for any parent that has ever wondered:

  • Why is my 15-year-old drinking lettuce water?
  • What on earth is a FYP?
  • Surely watching a gamer playing a game is not as enjoyable as playing the game, right?

Our panellists will explore everything from the social platforms every parent should know about, to what’s #trending and tips on how to set boundaries and navigate conversations about online behaviour.

We want to make Aussie parents feel empowered and educated to ask the right questions and have the conversations they need to be having in 2021.

Everyone is invited to join the conversation on June 22nd at 7pm AEST as Em Rusciano talks with Social Media Expert Grace Watkins, Aussie TikTok sensation Scott Boersen, Telstra cyber safety pro Darren Pauli, and ReachOut Parents’ Annie Wylie as they discuss and explore the ever-developing world of social platforms and tech for teens.

We will run a live Q&A chat on the night, so save your questions for Em or any of the experts and register to attend. Best of all, it’s free!

The Panel

Host, Em Rusciano

One of Australia’s most well-rounded performers and media personalities, Em Rusciano has three children aged 19, 13 and two. Em will be sharing her insights into how she manages the complex world of tech and social media with her children.

Grace Watkins, Co-founder and CEO of Click Management

At only 28-years-old Grace represents some of the biggest online gamers globally, with her talent roster generating more than one billion views per month. Managing teenagers that have become international gaming stars, Grace has her finger on the pulse and has experienced first-hand how to navigate the online world and keep on-top of trends to stay relevant.

Scott Boersen, Social Media Influencer

Scott Boersen is an Australian TikTok creator. Aside from maintaining his silky-smooth hair, Scott specialises in video production and has brought his professional expertise to the content he creates on social media. Along with his own content, Scott has contributed to the success of other creators, locally in Australia and around the globe.

Darren Pauli, Cyber-safety, Telstra

A tech genius with a colourful resume in the online security space, Darren is a cyber safety expert at Telstra with more than a decade’s experience. He specialises in providing information security advice and generating awareness for how to protect yourself online.

Annie Wylie, Senior Manager of Digital Content at ReachOut Parents 

Annie is responsible for all things content at mental health service ReachOut Parents. She has been working in the mental health sector for over four years and is passionate about bridging the gap between parents and young people when it comes to technology. 

You can register to attend our webinar here.

Devices |

Shooting with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G: how you can take the best shots

By Andrew Zhao February 2, 2021

As smartphones score more and more awesome camera tech, it’s getting easier and easier to snap a great shot. I’ve been shooting with the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G for the last couple of weeks, and I’ve already got some tips you can use to make your shots look their best.

The gear

This year’s Galaxy S21 is great for photographers. There are three models available to cater for all your screen-loving needs. And all the devices – from the Galaxy S21 5G through to the Galaxy S21+ 5G, right up to the flagship Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.

The top-of-the-range Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is what I have my hands on, and it’s a pretty sweet bit of kit.


Cheers for the hook up, @telstra ! The camera on the @samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is 🔥 ##Telstra ##Collab ##phone ##video ##sydney ##xgamesmode

♬ original sound – Andrew

Here are some tips to make the most out of it, and the awesome shots I got.

Turn on the grid lines

Turning on grid lines on your phone camera splits the screen into a 3×3 grid perfect for you to use the rule of thirds for your photos!

Try positioning points of interest in your scene on the intersections of the grid which will make your photo more balanced and aesthetically pleasing. The grid can give you a better idea if your subject is actually centred or not.

But, keep in mind rules are meant to be broken, so feel free to experiment outside of the grid to create interesting results.

Use the right camera for the right occasion

Nowadays smartphones have many different cameras which can be utilised for many purposes!

In general, landscapes look more grand when using a wide-angle camera on your phone. On the S21 Ultra 5G, you also get a macro camera so you can capture small details in focus and truly up close.

Portraits look great when using the Telephoto or Zoom lenses and will create some beautiful background blur (or bokeh) from this as well. Additionally zoom cameras will yield some amazing results on distant landscapes, for example mountains!

Take advantage of Pro Mode

If your camera has a pro mode where you can manually adjust settings, this can be very powerful and work to level up your photography skills.

When you’re shooting an awesome set of pics, it’s important to preserve as much detail as possible. For this reason, I shoot in RAW whenever I can. RAW is a file format that keeps more of the photo’s visual information intact when compared to shooting in JPG. That way you can edit the photo later and have far more to work with. This is the power of Pro Mode on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.

Pro Mode also allows you to manipulate just about every shooting setting possible for your photo. ISO; exposure; white balance; manual focus pulling, and more.

Additionally, by being able to control the shutter speed, when pairing your phone with a phone tripod you have the power to capture more light from a scene, and even take shots of the Milky Way for amazing astrophotography!

Using pro mode can almost transform your phone to an DSLR-like camera.

Make the most out of Panorama modes

Although people often use panorama modes for horizontal landscapes, try taking a panorama horizontally and then panning up to capture an even wider shot in a portrait orientation, perfect for the ‘gram! If there are tall trees, or if you just want to capture more of the scene this can create some impossible looking shots that you can create so easily on your phone!

Know your zooms

The last tip is just to be understand how you are using zoom on your phone. For example, the Samsung S21 Ultra 5G offers pre-set zoom lengths of 0.6x, 1x, 3x and 10x optical zoom.


A super-handy transition tutorial from the magician @andyescapes , captured on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G using the upgraded Space Zoom feature

♬ original sound – Telstra

What you need to know is that anything inbetween the zoom lengths (eg. 5x) will all be digitally rather than optically zoomed. What this means is if I take a photo that is zoomed 5x it is actually just zooming in digitally from the 3x camera. This can lead to images that may introduce some digital distortion.

To maximise quality, you simply stick to the default zooms on the camera such as 0.6x, 1x, 3x and 10x as you retain maximum quality of your images. You can zoom in digitally for yourself later!

Entertainment |

Keeping your kids safe gaming online

By Louisa Harris-Baxter December 24, 2020

More than a few kids will be looking forward to finding a new video game console wrapped up as a birthday or Christmas present this year. Gaming is a hugely popular activity, and it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of playing games online.

While the new Xbox consoles are a tonne of fun and a great way to keep entertained over the holidays, most gaming these days happens online – and this means it’s important to know what your kids are up to and how to help keep them safe. With the Xbox family settings app, for example you can manage kids time, friend requests, who they are talking to, purchases and so on. But there’s a lot to learn, so read onwards.

If you haven’t spent much time with a controller in your hands recently, you might be surprised to find out how diverse and interactive the world of gaming is these days. It’s natural to worry about how much time your kids spend in the world of online gaming (the pain of getting them to the dinner table is real), but when we roll up our sleeves and get involved, online games can be a way for the whole family to play and work together.

You may have listened to your kids talk at length about Games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla ,which transports players to the Viking age with axes and longboats, but you can also take your family on a journey around the world in Microsoft Flight Simulator, or have some mad-cap culinary fun as a team in Overcooked. Gaming really can be a family activity, and getting involved is one of the best ways to help keep your kids safe online

The latest gaming data shows that over 80% of Australian teenagers have played video games online before, and of those who do, almost all of them think they’ll play even more going forward. A big reason for this is new advancements in technology, such as virtual reality, a new generation of consoles and being able to access games instantly without downloading over the internet.

Nearly half of those teenagers surveyed also see the future of gaming as multiplayer, social, and co-operative – all things that are innately positive, but mean that when they’re online, they’ll be interacting with other people – which may carry some risk.

All the new games and advancements in technology can be a bit overwhelming to keep up with, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the wide world of gaming out there. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to give yourself peace of mind while your kids are playing online – and help keep them safe.

Here are four basic tips to follow to help keep your kids safer online. If you want to know more, visit the eSafety Commissioner’s online gaming page or read their research on how kids game online.

You might notice that the common advice is to keep clear lines of communication open between you and your kids. It’s crucial that you talk about these things openly and regularly – if you can empower your kids to make wise decisions for themselves, you’ll be setting them up for success whether they’re gaming or doing anything else online.

Know what your kids are playing

The best thing you can do to keep on top of things is understand the type of games your kids are playing.

This means keeping gaming consoles in the living room where you can keep an eye out, and paying attention to the parental rating of each game to make sure it’s not too violent and that it doesn’t contain themes, language or images that your kids aren’t ready for.

Online reviews are a great way to get a quick read on whether a game is appropriate. Common-sense media is a great source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools, and has a ‘what parents need to know’ section to their reviews that takes out the guess work.

Help keep their identity safe

While kids mostly want to play online with their friends, the next best thing – and a central part of some online games – is to play with strangers around the world.

Here’s the reality: when you’re playing an online game, you can’t be completely sure who you are playing with. Because of that, it’s important to set parental controls for younger gamers, and make sure older kids play with things like screen names instead of their real names, and not to share information such as their city, age or even gender.

It’s easiest to educate them about this early – you can even help them choose a screen name! Using a screen name can help keep them safe without impacting their gaming experience.

Take an interest

My daughter could talk for hours about the games and tv shows she’s passionate about. Taking an interest isn’t just a great way to bond with your kids, it’s a great way to help keep them safe.

More than just knowing what your kids are playing, if you know who they spend most of their time playing with, how they play and act online and how others interact with them, it can help put you on the front foot in making sure nothing bad happens.

One of the best ways to do this is simply to sit down every now and then and play a few games with them – you’ll get a better picture of what they’re actually doing, plus they’ll feel more comfortable talking about issues if they pop up.

Teach them basic computer safety

No matter where your child or teenager is gaming – whether it’s on a smartphone, game console or a PC – let your kids know that the same risks are there that would apply if they were browsing any other part of the internet.

This means things like not clicking on random links sent by strangers, not downloading files, or ever sharing passwords, login details or personal information over gaming chats. As digital natives, kids take this sort of information in their stride, and agreeing on your gaming rules and expectations together up front can help to build trust, avoid angst, and minimise unsafe behaviour down the track.

It might seem a bit daunting letting your kids play a game online – it’s a far cry from the multi-player Mario Cart we grew up with – but taking the time to engage with the games your kids are playing, and basic computer safety tips and tools will help you to keep your kids as safe as possible, while still letting them have a great time playing the latest games online this summer.

Devices |

How to download the COVIDSafe app

By Luke Hopewell May 7, 2020

The Australian Government has released the COVIDSafe app to help speed up the process of contacting people exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). Here’s how to get it on your smartphone.

COVIDSafe app is designed for both Apple and Android devices. The app is quick and easy to set up.

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How to install COVIDSafe

To install this app, your smartphone will need to be on either Android 6.0 or higher or Apple iOS 10 or higher. You will need a Google Play account if you have an Android smartphone or an Apple ID if you are using an Apple iOS device such as an iPhone, in order to download apps.

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If you have an Android device:

  • To run COVIDSafe on Android, you will need a device running Android 6.0 or higher. You can check your version of Android by opening Settings > About Phone > Android Version;
  • Download COVIDSafe from the Google Play Store, or search the store for “COVIDSafe”;
  • Tap ‘Install’;
  • Once installed, tap the COVIDSafe app to open and follow the instructions.

If you have an Apple iOS device:

  • To run COVIDSafe on iOS, you will need a device running iOS 10 and above. You can check your version of iOS by opening Settings > General > About > Version;
  • Download COVIDSafe from the App Store, or search the store for “COVIDSafe”;
  • Tap ‘Install’;
  • Once installed, tap the COVIDSafe app to open and follow the instructions.

‏‏‎ ‎Our Telstra Store staff are willing and able to help you install the COVIDSafe app if you’re experiencing difficulty, free of charge.

For more information on the COVIDSafe app and how it works check the Australian Health Department’s advice page.

How To |

Tips for taking the stress out of home schooling

By Luke Hopewell April 3, 2020

With many parents already opting to keep their kids home from school, and the potential for more home-schooling on the horizon, creating a productive learning environment at home is important. With many parents also needing to balance their working from home needs with their children’s schooling, we’ve got some tips on how to take the stress out of the process.

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Get a routine in place

It’s important to understand that kids and parents may have different schedules when working from home – and routines may differ from school-to-school. The best thing to do is to consult with your child’s teacher about how best to structure the day based on the work they have to complete.

Outside of their workload, it’s important to remember that kids need the same essentials as you. They need a sound workspace; healthy food; regular exercise and occasional learning breaks.

Planning out your week ahead of time will save you a lot of stress in the long-term.
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Create a study zone

Kids need a quiet and comfortable space to get work done. The good news is, it’s simple and easy to do.

Here are our tips:
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  • Use a chair with a comfortable seat cushion and a backrest with lumbar support to help kids sit upright. Most people will have a chair at the right height, with a comfortable seat cushion and back support (this could be a kitchen or dining chair). Feet should be well supported on the floor or on a footrest with thighs parallel to the floor. Sit with your kids to see what’s comfortable for them based on this advice.
  • All you need is a flat relatively clutter-free surface; most kitchen tables will be the right height to work on. Ensure elbows are at 90 degrees or slightly greater when using the keyboard and mouse, and place items kids need, a tablet, book or pair of headphones within easy reach.
  • If your kids are using computers or laptops, they can avoid glare by adjusting the angle on the monitor and reducing the brightness and contrast. Position the screen so the top third of it is at eye level when kids are sitting upright. You can raise a laptop using a stand/riser, or by using reams of paper and books – you’ll need an external keyboard and mouse if you are doing this.
  • Don’t forget that kids should stand-up and move every 30-60 minutes – these stretches are a great way to relax and reset. Get them to set a reminder on their phone or desktop!

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Identify your tech

You and your kids may take for granted having a whole swathe of tech available at work or in the classroom, but when you’ve moved into a home environment, that gear might not be at your fingertips.

To maximise productivity, we recommend following a checklist to make sure your workspace is set up for ergonomic success.

  • Laptop or tablet (and charger);
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Headphones or headset for online learning

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Explore the world online

Though kids are at home, there are plenty of ways to bring the world to them:

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Get busy making things

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Get kids moving

Sitting still isn’t always easy for kids, when they need a break or some time to decompress – these online resources can help:

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Make learning fun

When the set lessons are done, here are other resources to stimulate young minds:

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Raise your hand to ask for help

When we spoke to a teacher about the best advice for parents during this challenging time, they told us that it’s OK to understand your limitations.

The best advice you can have, they said, was to do what you can, when you can and how you can for your kids. Remember that you’re a parent, not a trained teacher, and that we’re all working in an uncertain space right now.

Be flexible with your situation and be sure to ask when you need help – teachers are expecting to hear from you!