Adapting to our new virtual lives on Zoom

Zoom video chat meeting

Many of us have had to turn to video conferencing technology for work, school, and to socialise with family and friends. There are a number of platforms out there but the one that has seen a massive growth in popularity is Zoom.

The number of Zoom users around the world have exploded from 10 million last year to over 200 million today. During 2020, it has added 2.2 million new monthly users which is more than the entire new user base they had last year.

Why is everyone suddenly using Zoom?

The appeal of Zoom is that it’s free and easy to use. It doesn’t require everyone to sign up for an account and works across different operating systems and devices. The user-interface is simple and you can have 40-minute conference calls with up to 100 people without having to pay for it.

Apart from seeing your loved ones who don’t live with you or talking to your work colleagues, it has been the go-to platform for Governments, book clubs, birthday bashes, virtual pub trivia and fitness sessions, giving rise to the new term “ZOOMba”.

ZOOMba fitness exercise

Schools embracing Zoom for education

Many schools across the country have also turned to Zoom to use as their online virtual classrooms with teachers and students adapting to the new normal.

Some schools are having fun along the way with backgrounds, filters and dress-ups.

The risks with using Zoom

There have been questions raised about the potential risks with Zoom and its security practices, with “Zoombombing” attracting the most attention. This is where users can find ways to drop in on your Zoom call uninvited.

While having Hamish Blake dropping in on your Zoom call can be a bit of fun, many victims have had online trolls invading and taking over their Zoom calls yelling profanities. Some have even had invaders using the screen-sharing function to take over their screens with disturbing violent or x-rated footage.

Another issue with Zoom relates to where user data is hosted and stored. Zoom groups its data centres into regions like Australia, Europe, India, Japan, the US, and Latin America. One particular region, China, has raised concerns with some users. This has resulted in Zoom implementing a new option for paid users where they’re able to opt-in or out of specific regions.

How to protect you and your family on Zoom

Despite security concerns, Zoom is still one of the best platforms for group video chats providing you take proper security measures.

Generate a random ID for your meetings

Select the “Generate Automatically” option for your meeting ID rather than using your personal ID, which will make it harder for someone to guess the URL link for your meeting. Also avoid sharing the link of your Zoom meeting in a public forum, like a public Facebook group, social media post or on a website.

Prevent “zoombombers” from entering your meeting

There are a number of things you can do to prevent random people from dropping in on your Zoom call. You can do this by making sure you set a password for your meeting or you can enable the waiting room feature where the host can screen attendees before allowing them to join the meeting.

Lock your meeting once everyone has arrived

Once all attendees have arrived at your Zoom meeting, you can lock this down to prevent others from joining.

Turn off screen sharing by participants

This ensures any zoombombers are unable to take over your screen with violent or pornographic material.

Dealing with unwanted intruders

If you do end up with an intruder in your meeting, you can kick them out under the ‘Participants’ tab. You can also stop them disrupting your audio by using the ‘Mute All Controls’ feature.

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