Welcome, parents and grandparents – and your children and grandchildren who want to help you manage the changes the Internet and technology are bringing to your lives! Here is a glossary of terms that we’ve written to help you understand the language of the ever-changing electronic world.

Address bar – This is the horizontal space at the top of a web browser where you can type in a url (web address) and then navigate to the page by pressing the enter key.

Analog – Analog is one of two general types of electronic signals (the other is digital). In its simplest form, analog values such as voltage occur in a continuous rate that can be increased or decreased but the amount of the rate is not exact, it’s approximate. Think of the sound volume on an older TV as an illustration of the difference between analog and digital. On an older TV, when you turned the sound volume, you knew if it was louder or lower but you could not measure exactly how loud (or low). On a new TV you know where the sound is because you get an on-screen readout with a number that represents the exact level of the volume.

Android – This is a type of operating system Google created. It is currently used on smartphones.

App – This is an abbreviated way of saying application. Apps are software programs that perform specific functions on smartphones and tablets. They are available in online app stores such as the one at Apple’s iTunes. Many apps are free. Those that aren’t usually can be purchased for just a few dollars. You will have to register your credit card to purchase apps. If you let your children or grandchildren, even those under 5, use your smartphone or tablet to entertain themselves, ensure that you have security measures in place to prevent them from buying apps without your knowledge!

Browser – This is the software you use to access, retrieve (call up) and see information on the Internet. Browsers are free and you probably use one (or more!) everyday. The most popular web browsers in 2015 are: Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Browsers are not the same as “search engines.”

Call up – In another day and time, this would mean to call another person on a phone. Now it means to open a document on a computer or mobile device.

Chat – This is a real time “conversation” conducted by two or ore people who type messages to each other on their keyboards. The messages appear at the same time on all of the screens of the participants.

Chat rooms – This is an online space where people “chat” in real time about topics of mutual interest such as gardening.

Computer virus – This is a program malicious people create to invade computers and networks. Viruses can cause damage that ranges from minor mischief to serious damage, including causing files in your computer to be destroyed or the computer to crash.



Desktop – In another day and time, a desktop was where people worked in an office or at home. While that can, of course, still be the case, a desktop in reference to your computer is the first screen you see when you turn on your computer or mobile device. Think of it as a table of contents for all of the information stored in your computer or device.

Digital – Digital is one of two general types of electronic signals (the other is analog). In its simplest form, digital values are expressed in numbers. The numbers are eith 0 or 1 and are expressed in a series of each.

Domain name – This is the name of a site on the Internet. Domain names have at least two parts separated by a dots. For example, a company called Widget might have the domain name of that belongs to its computer system. People who work for the company would have email addresses assigned to the domain name. If you worked for Widget, your email address might read like this: See also url and web address.

Download – This is a method by which you can save information on the Internet to your computer. You should only download information from a site that your are familiar with or trust to avoid unintentionally bring a computer virus into your computer.

FaceTime – This is an app that Apple developed that allows people to see each other during phone calls.

FAQ – An acronym that means Frequently Asked Questions.

File – A file is a very general term that refers to any of the documents that you read, images and videos that you see, or audios that you listen to on the Internet.

Hardware – This is the physical portion of your computer or mobile devices that you can see and touch. It’s the frame that holds a desktop computer, your mouse, a track pad or the case around your mobile device. Think of hardware this way … it’s what you might say bad things to when the real problem is a glitch in the software or a user error!

Home page – The first page on a website. Sometimes, it may be called a home screen. Think of it as being the online version of the table of contents for a book.

Hypertext (or, hyperlink) – This is text in an online document that is usually underlined or in a different color from the other text, or underlined. Clicking on the hypertext will connect (or link) you to more information about that text. The additional information could be elsewhere in the same document or elsewhere on the web..

Instant Message (IM) – Instant message gets its name from the ability to exchange private messages in real time. Many IM services now allow messages to be audio or video in addition to text. There’s a good chance your children or grandchildren prefer IMs to email because they consider email to be too slow.

IP address


Key word


Luddite – A person who struggles or refuses to use to adapt to new technologies.

Mobile devices – There was a time not so long ago we called these cell phones. Then tablets came along, and then smart phones. Since smart phones are so much more than phones and portable tablets can be phones or a mini version of a laptop computer, smart phones and tablets are often referred to as mobile devices.

Navigate – This is how users find items on a web page or various pages on a website: They “navigate” from one item to an other on a page or from page-to-page on a site. A goal of the people who design web pages is to make them easy to navigate because that enhances the user experience (your enjoyment of using the web).





OS – Operating system. The term refers to the software that runs the hardware and software in your computer or mobile devices. Essentially there are two types of consumer operating systems. One is Android, powered by Google. The other is Apple, powered by Apple.

Search engines – Search engines do what their name implies, they search for information on the Internet. When you type in a key word into YOUR WHAT, the search engine searches for items on the Internet that contain that key word or words. The most often-used search engines are Google, Yahoo, and Bing. About now, you might be wondering what’s the difference between a browser and a search engine. Here’s an explanation we found online: when you are in your car, your windshield would be the browser and the steering wheel would be the search engine.

Smartphone (or smart phone) – Smartphones are cell phones that combine the features of a cell phone with other popular features such as GPS navigation, email, calendars, music, Internet access, cameras, and third-party apps.

Smart TV – A smart TV is a TV or a set-top box that combines traditional television features with Internet and web features such as Internet TV, interactive media, on-demand streaming media and home-networking access. xxxx

Software – These are the programs and codes that run your computer and mobile devices. You can’t see it or touch it, but it’s there.





URL – The term can refer to several applications, but most often refers to the address for a web page. The url for the IoUC home page, for example, is Your facebook “address” is another example of a url. Most web browsers display urls in an address bar. The term, for inquiring minds that want to know, means uniform resource locator. URLs are sometimes referred to as a web address or a domain name.

User – You! The person who is using a computer or mobile device.

User interface – This is what you (the user!) see on the screen of your computer or mobile device.

Web address – This is another name for a url.

Web cam – This is a camera built into your desktop or laptop computer or one that attaches to your computer. It allows people to see you as you talk to them on Internet phone services such as Skype or in video chats.