Glossary of Internet Terms

Avatar: A graphic designed to represent either the person using the computer in real life or the persona the person has chosen.

Bandwidth: The amount of data (which makes up all your videos, pictures, etc.) that can be sent from one place to another over a certain period of time. You'll often hear connections referred to as narrow-band or broadband connections. Narrow-band connections were popular in the early days of the Internet, and compared to today's broadband connections, they could carry very little data over a given amount of time.

Blog: Blogs, or "web logs," have been around for a long time but really took off in the early 2000s with political blogs such as Instapundit and This rise also took place when services such as Blogger and WordPress made starting a blog simple even for novice computer users.

Browser: A Web browser is vital to being able to access information on the Internet. Basically, a website tells a browser how it wants to be displayed through its source code, and the browser follows those instructions so the user can interact with the site the way the designers of the site intend.

Cloud Computing: You've probably heard "the cloud" referred to like a real place. You might have heard that data is stored in the cloud or that the cloud processes data for intensive graphics. The cloud is a real place, though that place can be a number of places at once. It can be confusing, but the cloud is actually a server (or multiple servers) that allows people to access information without having to install software on their computers or take up any of their computer's memory. It is used widely today, though there are some concerns about security.

Cookie: Who doesn't like cookies? When it comes to browsing the Internet, plenty of people. Internet cookies are small files that allow Web sites to track your behavior online. While some people consider this to be invasion of their privacy and block cookies on their computer, others see it as a way to have ads targeted to their exact likes and dislikes, rather than randomly served to them, thereby sacrificing some privacy for convenience. People who are concerned about the security of their online identity often turn cookies off when browsing.

Cyberbullying: Any type of bullying that takes place online. Some examples might be someone making fun of someone else on Facebook or Instagram or even setting up websites or fake profiles for the purpose of bullying someone else.

Cyberstalking: Like cyberbullying, this is a type of stalking (which is like harassing someone with excessive or obsessive attention). This can be done online by sending unwanted communication (email or social media messages), monitoring someone's Internet usage, or otherwise harassing them.

Digital: Any information that can be reduced down to binary code, or a series of ones and zeroes that tell a computer what to do. The opposite of this is "analog." While an e-reader is digital (it's a computer that is told what to do by a series of ones and zeroes), a paper book is analog (it does not require those ones and zeroes).

Email: Electronic mail. Email is a type of communication people can use online to send messages to one another. Usually more formal than social media messages, emails are usually sent with a subject line, a greeting, and a digital signature (or just the name of the person who sent it).

Firewall: A piece of software that protects your computer from hackers or software designed to harm your computer.

HTML: Short for hypertext markup language, HTML is the main way webmasters code their websites. While there are other programming languages, HTML remains the most widely used, and it is up to browsers to take HTML code and display it in the way the webmaster intends.

JPEG: Most pictures use a large amount of data to be displayed on a computer. Because of this, compression exists for pictures to be displayed online, where they have to fit on servers with a finite amount of space. JPEG is one of the most popular formats of compression.

Malware: Malicious (or bad) software meant to harm a computer in some way. Malware can be a virus, which can make your computer unusable, or spyware, which can take sensitive information like banking details from your computer, and there are new types of malware being invented all of the time.

Network: Interconnected computers that can share information and resources. You might see this in your school computer lab. Usually, the teacher can see what is happening on every screen because all of the computers are hooked up to a network.

Server: A computer or piece of software that can either work locally (in the same building) or remotely (online), on which you can save data or from which you can retrieve it.

URL: The Uniform Resource Locator, otherwise known as the address of a Web page. It's easy to overlook, but computers can't do anything without being instructed. A URL acts as those instructions for a computer when you go online. It tells the computer where it should go to get the information it needs to display a Web page.

Wi-Fi: A type of technology that lets a wireless device (like your cell phone or laptop) get information over a computer network.

Further Resources

News and Views: Here are some recent articles about online safety.

NetSmartz Videos: Watch these videos to learn about staying safe online.

Internet Safety Tips: Check out these safety tips from the National Children's Advocacy Center.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a real issue. If you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, here's what you can do.

Warning Signs of Cyberbullying: How can you tell if someone you know is being bullied online? Here's some information that can help.

Being Bullied Online? How to Talk to Your Parents: Here's a great resource that can help you talk to your parents if you're the victim of cyberbullying.

What Is a Web Browser? Find out about the software you use to get online here.

History of the Internet: This is a complete history of the Internet for kids.

Internet Safety for Kids: Here are some great safety tips for kids and teens.

Webonauts Internet Academy: This fun game teaches kids about staying safe online and being a good citizen.

The Carnegie Cyber Academy: Learn Online Safety: Learn all about cybersecurity with this great, interactive website.

Internet Facts: What's the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web? Learn this and many other facts here.

KidsClick: Check out this great search engine that gives you information pre-approved for kids!

AwesomeLibrary: Here's a great resource for finding information geared to your grade level.

All About the Internet: Learn about what the Internet is, how it was created, and how it is used here.

Internet Public Library for Kids: IPL has been a trusted resource for decades. Take a look at what they offer for kids.

How Websites Work: If you're confused about how a website works, visit this site.

Kids and Computer Security: Learn more about staying safe online from the Federal Trade Commission.

What is Malware?: Find out more about malware and how to avoid it here.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids: Keep yourself safe online to prevent problems that could seriously hurt you in real life.

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