Know your digital

A brief guide to the jargon
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Become an expert

With our explanation of the commonly used terms.

With so many products on the market and so many choices, it is not always easy to understand where to start. And, when you do find someone to explain it to you, they often talk so quickly that you are none the wiser.

With this in mind we have created an A to Z of terms that we think you will find useful. This, at least, will allow you to deal with the jargon that makes things difficult to understand. Use it as a reference to refer to if you forget something or if there is a term you just don’t understand.

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If the whole idea of the internet and getting connected leaves you feeling overwhelmed, then we have a scheme to help you.

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List of online terms

Follow the links to find the term you are looking for

Ad, Ads or Advertisements - Not everyone is aware that, when you search on the internet, you will almost always be presented with adverts or Ads. Companies pay Google and Facebook so that their adverts will be the first thing you see when you search for something. This is not always a bad thing, but it is good to recognise that those first results may not be what you meant when you searched. You can recognise ads in Google by the word "Ad" that precedes the results.
Address Bar - The address bar is at the top of your web browser where the address of the webpage appears. You can type directly into this section - for example, typing www.actionforelders.org.uk will take you straight to the home page of our website.
Android - This is the software platform used by some phones and tablets. For example, Samsung phones use Android software.
Algorithms - Algorithm is another name of a piece of computer code, typically a mathematical formula or a process of rules to be followed when executing code. Algorithms are used to solve problems. On the web, for example, Google uses an algorithm to determine which websites you see when you put in a search.
Alt Tag - A tag or label used to identify an imageor a graphic to a search engine
Antivirus - Antivirus software works on your computer to prevent known computer viruses from attacking your device
Apps (Applications) - Types of computer programmes you can download to your mobile phone, tablet or computer. There are thousands of Apps allowing you to do such different things as mobile banking or playing games. Apps can be found in the App Store (Apple phones and tablets) or from Google Play on Android phones.
Apple - A brand of phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
Attachment - When you send an email and want to add a photograph or a document, this is usually sent as an attachment. You can usually recognise it by the papercdtp symbol often used to identify that something has been attached.
Authority - The amount of trust a website is credited with for a particular search query
Bandwidth - The amount of data that can be transferred through your internet connection. It is often used interchangeably with the words data or data package in your agreement with your internet provider or your phone package suppdter.
Bluetooth - Bluetooth is a type of wireless technology used to connect one device to another, for example, connecting your phone to a speaker to play music.
Broadband- Broadband is a generic term for the internet connection which allows you to access the internet. To get home broadband, you will need to set up a contract with a broadband provider (such as BT, TalkTalk or Virgin to name just a few) who will charge you for the equipment needed to connect your smartphone, tablet or computer to the internet. The broadband provider is sometimes known as an ISP (Internet Service Provider)
Browser - This is the computer software you use to browse and search the internet. Examples of a browser are Chrome, Edge, Safari and Firefox. There are a lot of settings you can adjust in your browser to make your web experience more satisfactory.
Catfishing - Catfishing is when someone sets up a fake online profile to trick people who are looking for love, usually to get money out of them.
Cloud (The Cloud) - Despite its fluffy sound, The Cloud is just great banks, or farms of computers serving up internet content.
Cloud Storage - The name given to a storage area on the internet, where you can store photos, files and videos rather than taking up space on your device. Examples of cloud storage include Google Photos, Google Drive and Dropbox. This is often a service you have to pay for if you store more than a certain amount of content.
Cookies - Most websites pop-up with a message asking you to 'accept cookies'. A cookie is a small piece of data that is stored on your computer, smartphone or tablet when you visit a website. They allow the website to track information about your activity on the website, such as how many times you have visited and how long you spent on the website. You don't have to accept cookies, but it might mean that you can't access some websites.
Data - Along with its linked terms, Data Allowance and Data Storage This is a measurement of the amount of content you have content (data) you have downloaded. It is measured in units called KB (Kilobytes), MB (Megabytes) and GB (Gigabytes)
Data Allowance - The amount of data you are allowed to upload and download as part of your mobile phone package. NB. This does not normally include using your mobile phone over your home wireless network as the data you are allowed to transfer is then covered by your broadband package.
Data Storage - The amount of data stored on a computer or on your device. There is a finite limit on any device depending on how it is stored.This is often called the memory limit.
Desktop - This is usually used to refer to the screen as it appears when you first open it on your computer.
Desktop Computer - This refers to a typical computer that is not portable (a laptop) and not a mobile device (phone or tablets)
Device - A general term covering your mobile phone, tablet or computer.
Download- When you transfer photographs or files on to your phone or other device, this is known as a download. Its corresponding opposite when you transfer information the other way is known as an upload
Email - Electronic mail or email is a free and easy way to stay in touch with family and friends, and the main way that organisations and companies will communicate with you. Popular email providers include Google Mail (commonly known as Gmail), Outlook and Yahoo.
Encrypted- To make content more secure, it is converted into an unrecognizable form, or code that makes it impossible to read and understand unless you have the right "keys". Typically, this is done behind the scenes, so you are not even aware that it is happening. It is important to know when you are looking for safe places to shop online or to do your online banking.
Facebook - Facebook is a popular social media channel where you can register, make a profile, find friends and share interests with others in groups. It allows you to post photographs, videos and other content for others to see and comment on. Facebook also own other companies such as Instagram and WhatsApp and use this connection to market to you.
Google - Google is a search engine. It is the most popular way of searching for the information and websites you are looking for by a long way, so much so that people talk about "googling" something. It is also an advertising company that owns YouTube and other platforms so it is the source of most of the advertised results you see when you search. See Ads for how they do this.
Hack, or Hacking - An attempt by criminals to gain unauthorised use of your device and accounts.
Hardware - This is simply the physical part of a computer or mobile device and refers to things like the computer screen, a mouse and a keyboard. The programmes that run on hardware are referred to as software
HTTP and HTTPS - Most web addresses start with 'http' or 'https'. It refers to how the information is shared over the internet. Make sure the website you’re using starts with ‘https’ if you’re entering personal or financial details. The ‘s’ stands for secure.
Hyperlink - See Link below
Icon - It refers to any small image but, in particular, the small image that is used to identify an App on your phone or a programme on your computer.
Inbox - Your email inbox where all the emails you receive are stored.
Instagram - Another popular social media application mainly used for sharing photographs, images and short videos. It is owned by Facebook.
iOS - The name for Apple's own software which is used to run their phones, tablets and computers.
Laptop - A portable computer with screen, keyboard and tracking device all in one.
Link (or hyperlink) - A piece of text you can click on to access another page or another link on a page. You find them in email as well as on most websites. The internet is built on links, but we always advise a word of caution when you come across them in email. Only click on links you know you can trust.
Log in (or login) - Usually consisting of your email address and a password, many Apps and website require a login to access your information, for example, your bank. You will find that many sites are requiring other ways to confirm your identity, including two-factor, face-recognition and fingerprints to ensure that you really are who you say you are.
Malware - Malware is short for malicious software. A general term describing software that can cause harm to your computer through spreading computer viruses or accessing your personal information.
Mobile Data - When you are not connected at home by Wi-Fi, then mobile data allows you to use internet services. See Data and Data Allowance to see how this is calculated.
Online (being online) - This refers to anyone or any device that is using the internet. It is best defined by its opposite - for example physical shopping or making a traditional telephone call.
Operating System - Windows, Apple's iOS and Chrome OS are operating systems from Microsoft, Apple and Google. All an OS does is to manage the various Apps and programmes on a computer or other device.
PayPal - PayPal is an online bank and a payment system used by many websites to allow you to purchase and make payments online. There are many others such as WorldPay, Stripe, SagePay, but PayPal was one of the first and remains one of the main movers in the online marketplace.
Phishing - Pronounced "fishing", this is when hackers use fake websites to trick you into using your name and password so that they can go on to access your online accounts. It is easy to remember as this is exactly what the criminal is trying to do.
Pop-up - These are the (sometimes annoying) little advertising screens that pop up on a website, ususally encouraging you to sign up to get some offer or another.
Profile - When you register your details on a website or on social media, this is known as your profile. Typically it includes address details, phone numbers and other such descriptive information. Remember, when creating a profile, you are trading convenience for potentially disclosing information to someone else when you don't need to. So consider carefully when and where you complete this type of information.
Program - Short for computer program, this originally meant a section of computer code, but is not used as a catch all for anything that runs on a computer or a mobile device. Skype, Word, Outlook and Zoom are all examples of programs.
Router - A device, often supplied by your broadband provider that connects you to the internet via cable or your phone line.
Search Engine - Chrome (Google), Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, Safari and Opera are all examples of search engines. Often the term is used as an alternative to Browser.
Search Query - The technical term for the word or phrase you type into your search engine when you are looking to find something on the internet.
Secure Website - A website that has a valid security certificate.
Security Certificate - Secure websites use security certificates to ensure that the connection between you and them is encrypted. The easy way to check if your connection to a site is secure is to look for the https lock in the website address (URL). They are also known as SSL or Digital certificates.
Skype - Owned by Microsoft, Skype is a video calling platform which allows you to make video calls from your device to friends and family. It can be installed as an App on to your computer or device, or you can use a version directly in your browser window.
Smartphone - A mobile phone that allows you to browse the internet, send texts, run software such as games and to make video telephone calls.
Social Media - The collective name for platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and many others that allow you connect with family and friends.
Software - The generic word for the computer programmes that run on your device (see hardware)
Spam - Also known as Junk Mail, they are emails you did not want and never asked for. Spamming is a popular technique for companies trying to sell and market to you as well asmore illicit activities.
Spyware - An unwanted program on your computer that spies on your activity. It can slow your computer down and make you a target for criminal activity. Scanning frequently with antivirus and antimalware software is your best security against this.
Tab/Tabs - Your browser allows you to keep several windows open at once using Tabs. You can add a new tab by clicking on the plus sign alongside your currently open window which means you dont lose your place at any time. They are a useful way of keeping multiple things open at the same time.
Tablet - A handheld device, larger than a smartphone that can be used to connect to the internet.
Text Message - A quick way to send a message using a smartphone or similar device. They are also known as SMS messages.
Two-factor - Refers to the process where a website, such as your bank, or HM Government will require you to confirm your identity using a special one-off code sent to your telephone or to your email.
Twitter - Another poplular Social Media platform that allows you to connect to others. Its key feature is that you are limited to 288 characters. It is very popular with people who have a lot of opinions like politicians and celebrities.
Upload - The opposit of Download, this is the process of transferring documents to the internet. For example, you might want to upload a photograph to Facebook.
URL - A URL is the address of the website, typically represented as www.websitename.com or something similar. Typed directly into a browser Search Bar, it will enable you to find the website you are looking for directly.
Virus - Just like a human virus, a computer virus is an unwanted infection on your computer. They are usually malicious and spread by email or other similar methods. Theyir effects can vary from slowing down your computer to deleting files or worse. They are bext combatted by keeping your antivirus up to date and running it regularly.
VPN - Used by the security aware, Virtual Private Networks come with some security software, or can be bought separately as a way of concealing the identity of your computer online.
Webcam - A built in camera or a unit that can be plugged into your computer that allows you to make video calls on Skype and Zoom.
Webpage (web page) - A single page on a website. Websites are made up of tens or even hundreds of separate webpages.
Website - A set of related webpages owned by one person or organisation. For example, Action for Elders' website is made up of hundreds of individual webpages on different topics, but all the webpages begin with 'www.actionforelders.org.uk'. You visit websites on your web browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox.
WhatsApp - A mobile phone App that allows you to make phone calls, send messages and make video calls to friends and family. It has end to end encryption which makes it a secure place to make this sort of call and send messages.
Window - On a computer it is possible to have multiple screens open at the same time. These are known as windows. Although they share a name, they are not to be confused with the programme Windows.
Windows - A popular operating system that runs on many computers.
Wireless Network (Wi-Fi) - A way of connecting computers and other devices without using wires or cables. Your internet provider will often offer the devices you need to connect this way, or they can be purchased separately. There are also public networks in many cafes, stations and other places that you can link into if you are travelling. If you do connect to a public networkm you may want to consider how secure your device is before you do so.
YouTube - Owned by Google, it is the most popular video streaming social network with millions of videos of all types and quality on every subject under the sun.
Zoom - This is video calling software similar to Skype. It can be downloaded as an App on your computer, smartphone or tablet, or just used in a browser window.
3G/4G/5G - The term used for transfer of mobile data when you are not on yur Wi-Fi. The higher the number, the faster data is transferred.

Contact us

Email: info@actionforelders.org.uk

Phone: 030 330 30132

Post: Action for Elders, Elfed House, Oak Tree Court, Mulberry Drive, Cardiff Gate, Cardiff CF23 8RS

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