If you received electronics as gifts for the holidays, here’s what you should do first


Many Americans received new gadgets this holiday season, like smartphones, TVs and laptops. Now that the excitement of unwrapping your new device is over, it’s time to think about what steps you should take to protect your information and ensure your safety. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of important steps to follow as you start using your new presents from yesterday.

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What do I do if I get a new laptop, tablet or smartphone?

Woman admiring her new cellphone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Set up strong passwords and PINs

Change default passwords and PINs immediately. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names. Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

Wherever possible, activate 2FA for added security. This provides an extra layer of protection by requiring a second verification step, such as a text message or authentication app.

Consider privacy screen protectors (for smartphones and laptops)

Privacy screen protectors can prevent others from viewing your screen from the side, enhancing your privacy when using your device in public spaces.

Create a backup system for photos and documents

If your device stores important data (e.g., photos, documents), immediately set up a backup system. This can be done through cloud services or external storage devices to ensure your data is safe.

Install antivirus protection on all your new devices

The best way to ensure that your devices are protected and that no one is snooping around on your data or browsing history is by purchasing antivirus software. To protect yourself from having your data breached, have antivirus protection installed on all your new devices. Having good antivirus software actively running on your new devices will alert you of any malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any malicious links in phishing emails, and ultimately protect you from being hacked. Get my picks for the best 2023 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices. 

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Set your new devices to be findable if lost

The best step to take if you have received a new laptop, tablet, or smartphone, whether it’s an Apple or Android product, is to turn on any ‘Find My’ settings in case your device ever gets lost or stolen. Here are the steps you can take for the following options:

How to turn on Find My on iPhone

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap your name
  • Select Find My
  • Tap Find My iPhone and toggle it ON
If you received electronics as gifts for the holidays, here’s what you should do first

Steps to turn on Find My for iPhone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

How to turn on Find My on my MacBook

  • Go to the Apple menu (the small Apple icon) in the top left corner and select System Settings
  • Then click Privacy & Security in the sidebar (You may need to scroll down.)
  • Click Location Services on the right
  • Turn ON Location Services, then turn ON Find My in the list of apps.

Note: If you don’t see Find My, go to System Services in the list of apps, click Details, then turn on Find My Mac.

How to turn on Find My Device on Windows 11

  • Select the Start button at the bottom left of your PC screen
  • Go to Settings
  • Select Privacy & security
  • Select Find My Device and select ON
  • Go to Location Services and select ON

How to turn on Find My on iPad

  • Go to Settings
  • Tap your Name
  • Click Find My
  • Tap Find My iPad and select ON

How to turn on Find My Device on Android or Google Tablet

  • Go to your Settings app
  • Select Security
  • Tap Find My Device
  • Enable Find My by toggling the slider on

MORE: LOST OR STOEN PHONE? THERE’S POTENTIAL TROUBLE ASIDE FROM THE COST OF REPLACING A PHONE

What accessories should I be thinking about?

In order to protect and enhance your devices, it’s important that you have some quality accessories, like a laptop bag or backpack, messenger bag, laptop sleeve, portable hard drive, headphones, webcam cover, attachable portable display, portable laptop stand, Bluetooth mouse and a good power strip and surge protector for your devices.

You’ll also want a good phone charger. Check out our picks for these 5 best portable phone chargers. The last thing you’ll want is a device that dies out on you all because you didn’t have a decent charging accessory.

What do I do if I get a new Smart TV?

If you received electronics as gifts for the holidays, here’s what you should do first

Child playing a game on smart TV (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Smart TVs are a great device to receive for the holidays. Not only do they give you access to tons of streaming apps, but they also allow you to browse the internet, stream music and videos, and even look at photos. With all these features comes a certain amount of risk regarding targeted ads and malware. While any smart device can be infected with malware, Smart TVs are usually not the devices that experience this kind of attack. Although it has happened in the past with both Samsung and Apple TVs, those cases are extremely rare. However, before you begin enjoying your favorite movies and TV shows, take these steps to protect your Smart TV.

Disable ads and tracking

Disabling ads and tracking on your Smart TV will mostly limit your TV from collecting data on you and the content you’re watching. Here’s how to disable that feature on Samsung, LG, and Vizio TVs:

LG

Some models may have different settings or options, so you should always check the user manual or the official website of LG for the most updated information.

  • Go to Settings > Additional Settings > General
  • Select Live Plus to disable Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
  • Select Advertisements and change the setting to “Do Not Sell My Personal Information
  • Review terms of use and privacy policy and then opt out of Viewing Information, Voice Information, Interest-Based & Cross-Device Advertising, and Live Plus Automatic Content Recognition

Samsung

Some models may have different settings or options, so you should always check the user manual or the official website of Samsung for the most updated information.

  • Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Privacy > Privacy Choices
  • Select Viewing Information Services to disable Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
  • Select Voice Recognition Services to adjust voice data collection

Vizio

Some models may have different settings or options, so you should always check the user manual or the official website of Vizio for the most updated information.

  • Go to Settings>Admin & Privacy
  • Select Viewing Data to turn off Automated Content Recognition (ACR)
  • Select Advertising to adjust ad tracking

Disable all camera and voice recognition settings

Most Smart TVs do not come with built-in microphones and cameras, but there is a way to turn off those features for the brands that do.

Samsung

  • Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Policies
  • Go to Voice Recognition Services and select Off
  • Some Samsung models come with retractable cameras in the middle of the device. Gently push it back without touching the lens until you hear it click to turn it off

LG

  • Go to Settings>All Settings>General
  • Select User Agreements
  • Disable the Voice Information setting
  • Some LG TV models come with retractable cameras. Keep the lens pushed down when you are not using it.

Other Smart TV brands may come with external cameras. Make sure they are unplugged whenever you are not using them.

MORE: TOP 10 SOUNDBARS TO ENHANCE YOUR TV AUDIO EXPERIENCE

Sell, donate, or recycle your old devices

If you received electronics as gifts for the holidays, here’s what you should do first

Woman typing on cellphone (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

If you have old devices that you don’t need, you can sell them or recycle them. Some services will pay you even if your devices are not working. To get the best deal for your devices, you need to choose the right service. Here are some services that you can use:

1) Amazon’s Trade-In Program

Amazon’s Trade-In Program is a quick and easy way for you to earn something from your old and unused electronics. Most older electronics decrease in value as time goes on, so it’s not likely that you’ll be able to earn a ton of money by selling them. Sure, you could always give your old item to a friend or family member if it’s still in good shape. However, if they are going to want to use something newer as well, then this is the perfect way for you to recycle your items and earn money back at the same time. Follow these steps on how this program works.

2) Decluttr

Decluttr is one of the easiest and fastest ways to sell used tech, including cellphones, unwanted MacBooks, tablets and game consoles, but also CDs, DVDs, games and books, too. Decluttr pays 30% more on average compared to Apple or Samsung buyback programs for smartphones. You can see what they would pay for your old tech online before committing to selling it here on Decluttr.

Click here for ways to sell, donate or recycle your phone and all of your old devices.

Before you do get rid of your old device, be sure to follow these steps:

Kurt’s key takeaways

You’ve got some new electronics to enjoy this holiday season. But before you start using them, make sure you follow these steps to keep your data and devices secure. Then, you can have a blast with your new devices without any worries.

Have you ever experienced a security or privacy issue with a new device? If so, how did you handle it? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.

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