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Understanding Internet Jargon & Social Media Platforms

Published: 20 April 2018

In this digital age it’s almost impossible to get by without an email address, as more and more services we use and things we do every day go online. Including simple things such as buying a tax disk, ordering groceries, reading the news, keeping up to date with friends and even listening to the radio. Technology is advancing so quickly, it’s important for older people and especially silver surfers to understand the jargon and keep up with what’s new.


Many of us access the internet and check our email via a tablet or smartphone, but email really is just the start. Accessing the internet brings along with it some confusing words such as apps, cookies and captchas. So, what are these terms and what do they mean?
This article sets about defining these basic terms in a straightforward way, explaining what these terms mean and what they do.

The Internet

Browser – A browser is something that allows you to open web pages on the internet. Common examples include: Google Chrome, Morzilla Firefox, or Internet Explorer

Search Engine – A search engine is a webpage where you enter your search term or keyword and it displays all the pages that are relevant to your search. The most common ones include: Google, Bing and Yahoo.

URL – All web pages have a URL (Universal Resource Locator) at the top of the page, this shows the name of the page and it usually explains what folder it’s saved in or where its located on a website.

Apps – Apps or (Applications) are small clickable icons or images that are download from an Amazon, Apple or Android Store. Many apps are free, but some must be paid for. Once clicked, they link to a website or computer programme. They’re usually displayed on a computer desktop or smart phone and they work like a quick shortcut to a website.

Cookies – When visiting a website for the first time, you will be alerted to the fact that they use cookies. Cookies are small files that attach to your computer after you visit a website. These cookies then record your website activity sending it back to the website you’ve visited. The aim of this is to enhance your next visit by displaying website content that’s more favourable to you.

If you agree to using cookies, you simply click to agree, however, if you disagree, you can ignore the message and turn your cookies off by going into your browser and changing the settings.

QR Code – A QR (Quick Response) code is a black and white square image that looks something like a bar code. Once scanned, a QR code holds information about a website. To scan a QR code, you need a smart phone with a camera and a QR code reader scanner app that can be download. Many iPhones have a built in QR readers. To use it, you simply turn on your camera on your phone and point it at the QR code.

Anti-virus/Anti-malware Software – This is software which can be download to protect your computer and your internet activity against any harmful viruses. Examples include: AVG or McAfee and some antivirus software is available for free.

IP Address – An IP address or (Internet Protocol) address is a series of numbers and dots. It’s your own personal internet identification number and the computer uses it to identify itself and talk to other IP users. To quickly find your own IP address, simply type ‘what is my IP address’ into a search engine like Google.

Captcha – A Captcha is a computer programme that tells the difference between a computer and a human. If you complete a form online, you might be presented with a picture of a bunch of numbers and letters and asked to type them in directly underneath the picture – that is called the Captcha. It’s trying to determine if you’re a human or computer to prevent any hackers getting into the site and stopping any fake forms being completed.

Social Media

Using social media is a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family, keep up to date with news and events and communicate in an easy and efficient way with people across the world.

Twitter – Twitter is a micro blogging site where you can post short messages called Tweets and upload photos and videos

Facebook – Facebook is a social networking site where you can post messages, upload photos and videos. You can also live stream videos.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn – is a professional social networking site, based around employment and allows you to network, find or post a job or to find work colleagues

Instragram – Instragram is owned by Facebook and is a photos and video sharing social networking site.

Pinterest – Pinterest is an online Pinboard, with many photos and infographics – allowing you to discover a great deal of information in a short amount of time.

Snapchat – Snapcahat is a downloadable App that allows the sharing of photos or short videos. The user can also decide how long they want their message to last – either 1 or 10 seconds and then the message disappears.

YouTube – YouTube is a video sharing site, where you can upload and view videos for free.

If you’re interested in improving your computer, IT or social media skills, there are many companies that offer computer course such as Digital Unite. The library or AgeUK often offer basic computer and IT courses for older people and some courses are free.

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