IT Jargon you need to know when you have kids who use computers.

One of the major barriers that prevent us from helping our children as they learn to make proper use of the computer and internet is the endless jargon that stands between us and the subject. How are we supposed to get to grips with this, when it seems to require a whole other language that we don’t understand? How can we stay on top of the current technology when it changes every single month?

Jargon you need to know.

Well, you’ll be happy to hear that the subject isn’t actually half as complicated as it seems. Once you get to grip with the basic terms, it becomes much easier to stay on top of all of the updates and changes that happen while you use the computer.

To help you with this, we’ve put together a handy list of some of the most common nonsensical-sounding jargon you’ll need to know in order to fully conquer the subject. So without further ado…computing words you should know:

Backup: This is an extra copy of a document, file or data, used to recover data if your computer malfunctions.

Browser: A program you can use to browse files on your computer. You will also have a web browser, such as Google Chrome or Safari, which will allow you to search through files on the internet.

Cloud computing/the cloud: This term refers to the use of a network of remote online servers to manage, store and process your data, rather than using a local server or your own computer. Many people now use The Cloud to backup their files, rather than burning them onto a disc.

Cursor: The tiny arrow or hand on your screen which you control with the mouse. The cursor allows you to select and interact with files on your computer.

Data: Any information saved on your computer, or in the cloud , is called data. This can include emails, songs, pictures or files.

Desktop: This is usually the first screen you see when you log in to the computer. It is the page you will see if you aren’t reading a file, searching the internet or using any other program on your computer. The desktop usually holds links to your browsers, files and recycle bin.

Download: Saving a file onto your computer from the internet or another computer is referred to as “downloading” the file.

Drag and drop: An easy way of moving files about. To drag and drop a file, click on it with your mouse and hold the button down. As you move the cursor, the object should move with it and stay where you leave it when you let go of the button on the mouse.

FAQ: FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. The FAQ section on a website will often have the answer to any questions you have, and will generally provide contact information so that you can find any answers that aren’t on the page.

Graphic: This is just another word for an image or a picture.

Homepage: This will be the first page you see when you open your browser. You can set any page you like as your homepage, but most people use a search engine as their homepage.

Icon: This is a little image or symbol used to represent a file or computer program.

Login: This is how you gain access to a computer or an account. To login, you have to type in your username and password to show that you are who you say you are. It’s a way of keeping all of your information safe and secure online.

Memory: The capacity for storing data on your computer is known as its memory. It’s like your own memory – but often lasts longer!

Memory on different devices tends to vary – for example, smartphones generally have a smaller capacity than desktop computers.

Right Click: Right-clicking is where you click the right button on your mouse. This will generally bring up a list of options.

Shortcut: A shortcut is an icon you can click to open a program or file saved elsewhere on your computer. Save shortcuts on your desktop so you don’t have to trawl through all of your files to find the program you want!

Spam: This is a word for any unwanted e-mail you might receive. Most of these emails will be caught by your e-mail’s spam filter, but watch out for any suspicious e-mails that might have got through!

URL: Every document or page shared on the internet has a URL. This is the page’s address. Copying and sending a page’s URL to someone else will allow you to show them what’s on your screen.

World Wide Web (WWW): A massive group of internet servers which link computers together from all over the world.

Helpful tablet and smartphone terms

Android: This is a smartphone operating system which is owned by Google. Android is used by many different phone companies including HTC and Samsung.

Gigabyte (GB): This is a term used when measuring RAM and memory. A gigabyte is a word for 1,000,000 bytes. A byte is an individual unit of information.

Operating System (OS)/Firmware: This is a name for the software structure that makes up a phone or a computer. The OS used by your phone determines how you have to navigate your phone, which app store you use and which apps you can get.

Random-Access Memory (RAM): This is a device’s short-term memory, which stores the programs and data which are currently in use. The more RAM your device has, the more power-consuming the apps you can use and the more apps you can use at once.

Read-Only Memory (ROM): Different versions of the Android operating system are known as ROMs. Android users often get to choose which ROM they want to use.

SIM Card: In the vast majority of countries, users with mobile phones have a small plastic chip – their SIM card – which ties them to a phone number and specific company (such as Vodafone or O2). To change your number, you simply buy a new SIM card.

3G and 4G: 3G phones are the third generation of wireless technology (following analog phones and digital phones). As a general rule, they are smartphones with higher speeds and better capabilities than the phones that came before them. Meanwhile, 4G devices are the next generation – even faster devices with high-speed wireless Internet.

Which apps are popular with kids?

With the ever-growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, “apps” are something you’re going to hear about more and more – whether you use this technology yourself or not. These are some of the most popular apps which your kids might be using:

Facebook Terminology

Chat: This is a feature that allows Facebook users to send instant messages to users on their friends lists. On the Facebook app, the separate “Messenger” app is used.

Event: This is a feature which allows users to organise events and RSVP to other people’s events.

Follow: Users who wish to hear from other users without adding them as friends may instead choose to “Follow” them.

Friend: These are the people you choose to connect and share with on Facebook. You can send and receive Friend requests to build these connections.

Like: If you see something you like on Facebook but do not necessarily wish to comment, you can express this by clicking the “Like” button.

News Feed: This is the panel in the centre of your homepage which shows you statuses, photos and videos shared by your friends.


Another app which originally comes from a website, YouTube is an app which allows users to watch videos on a range of different subjects including gaming, news, music and entertainment. The majority of users create accounts to subscribe to other accounts, rather than to share their own videos. Users with a Google account can use this to log in, rather than creating a separate YouTube account.

Children who use YouTube should be made aware that once a video is uploaded, it can be shared widely (unless they are very careful with their privacy settings). While you cannot officially download content from the website, a number of websites and apps do exist which let you do this.

Videos with mature themes and inappropriate content can be found on this website, but an 18+ account is often required to access these.


Released by Facebook, Inc., Messenger is a lot like texting. The difference here is that rather than paying to send each message, the app uses the user’s internet connection or data plan. Messenger now allows users to message people who aren’t Facebook contacts – people in your phonebook or people whose phone numbers you enter.

If your child has “location” turned on on their device, nearby friends will be able to see where they are. This is an optional function which can be avoided by simply turning location off.


Instagram is an app which allows users to capture and share photos and videos with their “followers”. Users can set their profiles to “public”, meaning that anyone can follow them and see their photos, or “private”, meaning that users need to request to follow them before seeing their photos.

Photos and videos shared on the app can be edited with filters and other creative tools.

Instagram on cell phone

Instagram Terminology

Hashtag: If you place a “#” before a word on websites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it becomes a hashtag. These are used to connect posts with other posts on the same topic, and allow users to look through posts by people who are talking about the same thing as them.


Snapchat is an app which allows users to send photos and videos to contacts, which will then play on the other user’s device for up to 10 seconds. Receivers can take a “screenshot” of a photo if they wish to keep it, but the sender will then receive a notification saying that the photo has been saved.

Snapchat users can add fun filters and stickers to the photos, videos and messages they send through the app. Photos and videos sent on snapchat are referred to as “snaps”.

As new apps and devices are developed and others lose and gain popularity, the terms used to describe aspects of your computer are changed. Feel free to let us know if there are any terms you´d like us to include in the list!