Below you will find a list of specialized terms with definitions to help you better understand the language of “all things internet.”

Avatar – A graphic/photo icon to represent a participant in chat and games.

Blog – A journal that is available online. The activity of “posting” to a blog is “blogging” and someone who keeps a blog is a “blogger.” Blogs are typically updated frequently, with posts appearing in chronological order with the most recent at the top. Thanks to the availability of blogging software that requires little or no technical background, creating and maintaining a blog is very easy to do.

Bookmark (Favorite) – A website address saved in your browser so you can access it easily later.

Browser – Software (Ex: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari) used to look at various kinds of internet resources.

Buddy List – In instant messaging (IM), or on cell phones with text display, a list of people a user wants to communicate with. The list can be used to see who is offline or online.

Bulletin Board – A computerized meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files, and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer at the same time.

Cache – Browsers hold copies of recently visited websites and web files in disk memory. This disk memory space is called the cache.

Chat rooms – Internet service provided area where users can talk instantly with one another online by sending short messages. Different rooms may be “entered” to discuss specific topics.

Cloud computing – Cloud computing refers to the ability for people and organisations to access files, software, data and other services via the internet that are hosted remotely, typically by a third party organisation. An example would be an internet service which allows you to upload and store your files (e.g. audio, video and documents) online and access them later.

Cookies – A small file placed on your computer by a website you visit that stores information about you. Cookies can be useful because they can allow you to skip entering information on reputable sites every time you visit. While cookies will not act maliciously on your computer system, they can compromise your privacy.

Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Cyberbullying has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is cyber-harassment or cyberstalking.

Cyberspace – Used to describe the entire range of internet resources available through service providers.

Denial of Service (DoS) – DoS attacks involve cybercriminals using a variety of techniques to inundate an internet server with enormous amounts of ‘junk’ data in order to consume its resources. This can result in normal web users being unable to access a website or experiencing very slow access speeds.

Domain Name – The unique name that identifies an internet site. Domain names have 2 parts, separated by a dot. The part on the left is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general.

Download – To copy a file from a website or e-mail attachment onto the computer you are using.

E-mail  – Messages sent from one person to another via computer. Generally text, but can include attached files of documents, graphics, sounds, or videos.

Emoticons – Sequence of printable characters to convey an emotion, such as a smiley face :-).

Flaming – Insulting or nasty remarks directed at someone through e-mail or chat rooms. A “flame war” is when an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal attacks.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – Software that will transfer entire files from one computer to another, for viewing or other purposes.

Grooming – Grooming occurs when an adult takes deliberate actions to befriend and establish an emotional connection with a child in order to lower the child’s inhibitions. It may include situations where adults pose as children in chat rooms or social networking sites and ‘befriend’ children in order to make arrangements to meet with them in person.

Hacker – A technically sophisticated computer user who enjoys exploring computer systems and programs. Activities can be benign or malicious.

Homepage – Usually the first page of a website.

Internet– The worldwide, interconnected system of computer networks.

Intranet – A private network inside a company or organization that is used to access internal documents and information.

IM (Instant Messaging) – Technology that notifies a user when a friend is online, allowing them to “converse” by exchanging text messages. IM or text messaging has become a term associated with messaging by cell phone as well.

ISP (Internet Service Provider) – A company that provides customers with a connection to the internet and may provide e-mail services.

Keylogging – Keylogging is the use of either a hardware device installed on a keyboard or spyware software to record every keystroke (the sequence of keys pushed on your keyboard) on the computer. A keylogger records everything the user types in, including emails, log-in names, passwords, credit card numbers and/or bank account websites in order to steal the information.

Location-based services – Location-based services help you to find a location or to let others know where you are located. This technology can be used to find people, or business locations like restaurants. Location-based services are also used by social networking services to help you provide located-based information (check-ins) to status updates or photos.

Lurk – To lurk is to listen into a chat room or online group without participating. Newcomers are encouraged to lurk for a while as they get the feel of a site and how it operates.

Message Board – A section on some Web sites that displays messages posted by users.

Netiquette– The informal rules of online courtesy.

Peer-to-Peer (or P2P) – Networks used for sharing content such as music, video, data or anything in digital format.

Phishing – An identity theft scam in which criminals send out spam that imitates legitimate correspondence. The fake messages often link to websites which are made to look like the sites of respected companies. You are asked to enter personal information for authentication or confirmation purposes but in reality, you are giving personal information to criminals. Be aware that phishers also use the phone to hunt for information.

Piracy – The unauthorized copying of software, movies, recorded music, CDs, DVDs, etc.

Podcasting – Posting or transmitting an audio file to be downloaded and viewed/heard by other internet users either on a computer or MP3 player. Note: You do not need an iPod to do podcasting.

Pop-up – A browser window that opens in addition to the main window. Frequently contains bothersome advertising and may be difficult to get rid of. Pop-ups may open automatically without input from the user, and closing one may open several more unwanted windows.

Read/Write Web (Web 2.0) – Websites that allow users to produce as well as consume information (i.e., blogs and wikis).

Remix– Process/art of taking existing digital content (e.g. music, video) and editing and recombining it to produce new content. Remixing is the gray area between copyright and fair use.

RSS – RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, which is an internet based technology that allows the distribution of Web content through an RSS reader. Using RSS, news articles, press releases, and other content can be gathered together and distributed via news feeds on an RSS server connected to the internet.

Search Engine – A system, such as Google, for searching for information on the internet.

Sexting – Sexting refers to the sending of provocative photos, messages, or videos, generally using a mobile phone. It can also include posting this type of material online.

Social Networking – A web of interconnected people who directly or indirectly interact with or influence the student and family. May include but is not limited to family, teachers and other school staff, friends, neighbors, community contacts, and professional support.

Spam, Spamming – Unsolicited and/or inappropriate email.

Spoofing – Pretending to be someone else.

Spyware – Software that is secretly installed on a computer and monitors use of the computer in some way without the users’ consent. Most spyware tries to get the user to view advertising and/or particular web pages. Some spyware also sends information about the user to another machine over the internet. Spyware is usually installed without a user’s knowledge as part of the installation of other software, especially software such as music sharing software obtained via download.

Tagging – Tagging is used on social networking websites such as Facebook to enable users to identify the people that appear in photos they upload.

Trolling – Trolling is when a user intentionally causes distress, anger or argument in an online public forum for the purpose of disturbing other users. Individuals who partake in trolling seek an emotional response from others, whether with malicious or humorous intent.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) – The unique address of an internet page.

Username – A username is the name for a person used specifically for the online world. It is sometimes referred to as a “handle.” When you sign up for a service such as gmail or a chat room, you are required to create a unique identifier—a “username”— that helps to protect your identity.

Virus – A software program or script designed to destroy, modify, or cause other problems with a computer or software program. Viruses can arrive as e-mail attachments, with software installations or on discs. Installing and keeping current an anti-virus program can greatly reduce the risks to your computer.

Walled Garden – An environment that controls the user’s access to Web content and services. In effect, the walled garden directs the user’s navigation within a website (blog), to allow access to a selection of material, or prevent access to other material.

Web 1.0 – Websites that allow users to consume information. The information flow is one way in that users cannot produce information on a Web 1.0 site.

Web 2.0 (Read/Write Web) – Websites that allow users to produce as well as consume information e.g., blogs and wikis.

Webcam – A simple video camera that sits near your computer and sends live or recorded video as well as still photos.

Wikis – Software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites and knowledge base. One of the best known wikis is Wikipedia.


Decoding Your Teens’ Texting Codes

Not sure how to decode your teens’ shorthand in the digital world? Feel like you need to brush up on the latest digital apps? Visit Common Sense Media’s A-Z Digital Glossary.