Extracts from a booklet published by Home Office Communication Directorate - Dec 2001


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A-Z of Internet Jargon


An address is how you find places on the internet.  Typically they begin wwww (world wide web) then have the name of the company or institution concerned.  For example, the education section of the Houses of Parliament is at  The things that look like full stops are pronounced "dot".

A website address is different from an email address, which is used to contact an individual.  Email addresses contain the @ symbol (pronounced "at") and the email address for parliament's education unit is [email protected].  A fictional example for an individual might be [email protected].  If you were to read this out loud, it would sound like: "Joe Bloggs at Parliament dot UK".


An attachment is a file that can be sent with (attached to) an email or other messages on the internet.  It may contain text, pictures, photographs, graphics, sound or video.

Browser or Web Browser

A piece of software, ie computer instructions or computer program which lets you explore (browse) the internet.  The best known are Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.  One will come pre-installed in your computer.

Chat Room

A place on the internet where people communicate by typing messages (or by speaking using a microphone and headsets).  The text is displayed almost instantly on the computer screens of everyone else in the chat room, wherever they are in the world.  Someone a teenager meets in a chat room might become one of their "friends" even though they have never met in the real world.

Pressing one of the buttons on a computer mouse to execute a command.
Cyberspace and Cybercafe

"Cyberspace" is another way of referring to the internet.  Cybercafes (or internet cafes) contain rows of computers and offer public access to the internet for a fee.  They may or may not serve food and drink.


To transfer information from the internet to your computer.  More often than not it will be free.  For example, you can "download" a picture you might want to print out, or "download" software that allows you to chat.  You can even "download" a piece of music.

Email (Electronic Mail)

Messages sent electronically (over the internet) from one computer to another to an email address.


An icon on the internet's browser that allows you to add to a folder web addresses that you use often or do not want to forget.  This could be used to save the addresses of approved chat rooms, which you could agree with your child.


A means of blocking certain types of material from your computer.  For example, with the right software, you can filter out sites that contain violence, sex, hate or racist material.


Hardware is the equipment such as a computer monitor (or screen), keyboard and mouse; software is the computer program or instructions that allows you to use it.  For example, word processing software lets you type documents or letters.  some software packages come pre-installed in your computer and are free to use.  Other, more advanced, packages can be bought.  Still others (eg those that allow people to chat) can be downloaded free of charge over the internet.


Many computers are supplied with the facility to transmit sound, with the necessary software and hardware, and headsets and a microphone.  These can be used to talk in real time - just like the telephone - to another computer-user anywhere in the world.  Potentially a boon, and a way to save money on phone bills, they could expose your child to unwelcome and/or unsuitable conversations when they do not know the other user.


A small picture, often self-explanatory, which performs a function when you click on it.  For example, if you click on the icon of a printer the printer will print the page you are looking at.

Instant Messaging or IM

You can Instant Message a friend on the internet in much the same way as you can send a text (written message) to their mobile phone.  Both parties must agree to receive messages from each other to use the service, and it is an easy and useful way of keeping in touch with friends.  It works much like a chat room, where you exchange typed messages more or less instantly.  But other people can be invited to take part.  Person B might say to Person A can Person C join in?  You do not know who Person C is ... so there is a theoretical opportunity for abuse.

Unlike chat rooms, Instant Messaging is usually more closely associated with a network of friends.  So if strangers are invited in, it could be easy for them to find out things about your child and his or her friends - for example that they meet in McDonalds every Saturday at 7pm, or even where they live.  If a stranger is present, the safety rules should apply.


A global network of computers that connects people and information.  Also known as the "net".

ICQ (I Seek You)

An internet programme you download (from that tells you which of your friends are online and lets you contact them.  Among other things, the program lets users chat, send messages and files, exchange web addresses and play games.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat)

Another from of online chat.  You need to download a program to use it.  See for more information.  As with any kind of chat, the same safety rules apply.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)

Though you need a Browser to let you explore the internet, you need an ISP to connect you to it in the first place.  ISPs are commercial companies which have different ways of charging for their services.  Some well-known examples are AOL, BT, Demon, Orange and MSN.


A hardware device that lets computers communicate with each other over telephone lines.  It may be located outside or inside the computer.

Moderated Chat Rooms

Chat rooms where a person or a piece of technology supervises the chat, screening it for inappropriate material or behaviour.


A small device which is attached to the computer by a cord (wireless types are now available - 2007).  Moving and clicking on the mouse lets you navigate around the computer screen.  Laptop or portable computers do not have an external mouse, the functions are incorporated into a ball or a pad on the keyboard instead.

Newsgroups and Similar Services

Discussion groups.  Unlike chat rooms, they are not "live".  Participants post (ie write) messages for others to read, just like a notice board.  Newsgroups are devoted to specialist subjects from sport to celebrities.  In addition to newsgroups, clubs and communities allow people to exchange information on topics of interest.  All of these are potentially open to abuse, eg through people posting illegal material such as child pornography.


Being "online" is being connected to the internet.  "Offline" is often used as another term for the real world.


Some chat rooms let you complete a personal profile which can be made available to other chat room users.  Children and teenagers should never include any information in a profile which could identify them.


Like "junk mail", spam is email you do not want and have not asked for.  It can be sexually explicit, which is another reason your children should not give out their email address when they are online.


Another term for an internet address.  (It stands for Uniform Resource Locator but no-one ever calls it that.)

Web (World Wide Web)

The enormous collection of sites that has been put on the internet by companies, organisations and individuals -  sometimes used to mean the internet but strictly speaking only one area of it.  Newsgroups and Internet Relay Chat for instance, are internet services, not web services.  You and your children, however, will be able to access both.


Webcams (short for web cameras) are special video cameras that can be linked to the internet.  Just like ordinary cameras, you point them at something - say a view of a beach - and the image appears, more or less live, on your computer screen.  It is a fantastic way of seeing another place or person.  But they could also be used illegally, or unpleasantly, to send or receive naked or pornographic pictures of individuals.

Whispering and Private Chat Rooms

Whispering is a way of sending a private message to an individual in a chat room.  This is like having a private conversation with a stranger and in general, as in the real world, it is safer to stay in the public area of the chat room, where there is some safety in numbers.  Private chat rooms, which can be set up from within a public chat room, are a bit like a splinter group going off to another room at a party.


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