Explaining common digital terms

The online world is full of jargon that we do not think twice about for example, ‘inbox’, ‘spam’ and ‘upload’.

So when you’re supporting someone who has never used the internet you’ll need to think about how you explain things to them.

This A to Z from Let’s Get Online defines the main common digital terms in a clear and easy to understand way.

Here are suggestions for ways you might explain some device and internet-related words:

App: A tool that make can things like shopping, watching videos and online banking quicker and easier. Many organisations and businesses have their own apps. It’s a version of their website that you can save on your iPad or Chromebook. You can get apps from Google’s Play Store if you have a Chromebook, or from the Apple App Store if you have an iPad.

App Store: A shop for apps and games, where you can go and search for the app you want to get.

Attachment: A photo, document or video that you add to an email message for other people to read, look at, watch or edit.

Cookies: Cookies store information about the websites you visit. For example, a cookie can remember you once you’ve entered a password on a website so you do not need to type it in every time you visit that website. You can turn cookies off on any site, but this may stop some sites working properly.

Data: This is sometimes called “mobile data” or “roaming data”. Whenever you use the internet you use data – whether it’s looking for information, sending an email, or watching a TV programme on BBC iPlayer. Because being online uses data in the same way that a car uses petrol, you need to check that you have enough data left to do what you want to.

Device: A machine, for example a phone or computer, that can be used to connect to the internet.

Direct Messaging (DM): A private message sent on a social media website, that only the person it’s sent to can see.

Email: The system for using computers to send messages over the internet. 

Facebook: A website where you can share information about yourself, and communicate with groups of friends.

Google: You can use Google to search the internet. You type the word/phase/term you want to search in the box, and it will find the most popular websites for you.

Homescreen: The starting page on your iPad or Chromebook. If you get lost or confused when you’re using your device, go back to the homescreen and try again.

Instant Messenger: A computer program you can use to exchange written messages very quickly with someone else who’s using the internet at the same time.

Internet: The large system of connected computers around the world that allows people to share information and communicate with each other.

Lockscreen: If you do not use them for a certain amount of time (you can choose how long) devices will automatically ‘lock’ and you will see the lockscreen. This means that anyone who wants to use your device will need to know the password or passcode. The lockscreen also saves power. 

Smartphone: A mobile phone that connects to the internet and can be used as a small computer.

Social Media: Websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate, and share information, on the internet using a computer or mobile phone. Some examples of social media websites or apps are Facebook, Twitter.

Tablet: A tablet computer, commonly called a tablet, is a thin, flat mobile device. It’s usually slightly larger than a mobile phone, has a touchscreen display and a rechargeable battery.

Twitter: An online social networking and news site where people communicate using short messages (of 280 characters or less) called tweets.

URL: Every website has a URL. It’s the internet’s version of an address – somewhere to find what you’re looking for. For example, Google’s address is www.google.com.

Web browser: The tool you use to view web pages on your iPad or Chromebook. Some of the most popular web browsers are: ‘Google Chrome’, ‘Internet Explorer’, ‘Firefox’ and ‘Safari’.

Website: A group of webpages that are connected to one another and put online by an individual, business, educational institution, government, or organization.

WhatsApp: An app you can use to send text messages, images, videos and documents. You can also use it to make voice calls and video calls.

Wi-Fi: A system for connecting electronic equipment like your iPad, Chromebook or smartphone, to the internet without using wires.

Zoom: An app that people use to make video calls. The person organising the video call will send you an email with a link attached, or a code for you to use in the app, so you can join the call.