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Glossary of Terms



Adware: A form of malicious code that displays unsolicited advertising on your computer.

Anti-virus Software: Software that attempts to block malicious programs/code/software (called viruses or malware) from harming your computer.


Blog/Blogging (short for weblog): A diary or personal journal kept on a website. Blogs are usually updated frequently and sometimes entries are grouped by specific subjects, such as politics, news, pop culture, or computers. Readers often post comments in response to blog entries.

Bookmark: A saved link to a website that has been added to a list of saved links or favorite sites (i.e., “Favorites”) that you can click on directly, rather than having to retype the address when revisiting the site.

Browser: A program that lets you find, see, and hear material on web pages. Popular browsers include  safari, Microsoft inIernet Explorer, Firefox, and Google chrome.

Buddies (Buddy list): A list of friends a user interacts with online through various media such as instant messaging (IM) and chat.


CDA: The Communications Decency Act of 1996, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, was the first attempt by the U.S. Congress to protect children on the Internet from pornography. CDA prohibited knowingly sending or displaying “indecent” material to minors through the computer, defined as: “any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms of patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or organs.” The Act was immediately challenged by a law suit by the ACLU and blocked by a lower court. A year later the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the indecency provisions of the CDA in the historical cyberlaw case of Reno v. ACLU (1997). The Supreme Court held that a law that places a “burden on adult speech is unacceptable if less restrictive alternatives would be at least as effective in achieving” the same goal.  However, the court reaffirmed the application of obscenity and child pornography laws in cyberspace—an important victory for the protection of children online.

Chatroom: A location online that allows multiple users to communicate electronically with each other in real time, as opposed to delayed time as with e-mail.

Circumventor Sites: Parallel websites that allow children to get around filtering software and access sites that have been blocked.

Closed Systems: A limited network of sites that are rated and categorized by maturity level and quality. Within a closed system, children cannot go beyond the network whitelist of approved websites, also referred to as a “walled garden.”

Cookie: A piece of information about your visit to a website that some websites record automatically on your computer. By using a cookie, a website operator can determine a lot of information about you and your computer. cookies are not always bad. For example, a cookie remembers that you prefer aisle seats in the front of the plane.

COPA: The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998 was an effort by the U.S. Congress to modify the CDA in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Reno v. ACLU. The law sought to make it a crime for commercial websites to make pornographic material that is “harmful to minors” available to juveniles. The purpose of COPA was to protect children from instant access to pornographic “teaser images” on porn syndicate web pages, by requiring pornographers to take credit card numbers, adult verification numbers, or access codes to restrict children’s access to pornographic material and to allow access to this material for consenting adults only. Despite the critical need for measures to protect children from accessing harmful materials, the law was immediately challenged and blocked by lower courts, and has become the subject of an epic legal battle, still raging today. The permanent injunction against the enforcement of COPA remains in effect today. The government has not announced whether it will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court for a third time.

COPPA: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which went into effect in April 2000, requires websites that market to children under the age of 13 to get “verifiable parental consent” before allowing children access to their sites.  The Federal Trade commission (FTC), which is responsible for enforcing COPPA, adopted a sliding scale approach to obtaining parental consent. The sliding scale approach allows website operators to use a mix of methods to comply with the law, including print-and-fax forms, follow-up phone calls and e-mails, and credit card authorizations.

CIPA: The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) of 2000 requires public schools and libraries receiving federal e-rate funds to use a portion of those funds to filter their internet access. They must filter out obscenity on library computer terminals used by adults and both obscenity and harmful-to-minors materials on terminals used by minor children. CIPA was upheld by the u.s. supreme court as constitutional in June 2003.

Cyberbullies/cyberbullying: Willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text, typically through e-mails or on websites  (e.g., blogs, social networking sites).

Cybercrime: Any Internet-related illegal activity.

Cybersecurity: Any technique, software, etc., used to protect computers and prevent online crime.

Cybersex (computer sex, or “cybering”): Refers to virtual sexual encounters between two or more persons.

Cyberstalking: Methods individuals use to track, lure, or harass another person online.


Discussion Boards: Also called Internet forums, message boards, and bulletin boards. These are online sites that allow users to post comments on a particular issue.

Domain name: The part of an Internet address to the right of the final dot used to identify the type of organization using the server, such as .gov or .com.

Download: To copy a file from one computer system to another via the Internet (usually your computer or mobile device).


Electronic Footprint: computers maintain a record of all website visits and e-mail messages, leaving a trail of the user’s activity in cyberspace. These data can still exist even after the browser history has been cleared and e-mail messages have been deleted.

Electronic mail (e-mail): An electronic mail message sent from one computer or mobile device  to another computer or mobile device.


Favorite(s): The name for bookmarks (see above) used by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.

File Sharing: This software enables multiple users to access the same computer file simultaneously. File sharing sometimes is used illegally to download music or software.

Filter/Filtering: Allows you to block certain types of content from being displayed. Some of the things you can screen for include course language, nudity, sexual content, and violence. Different methods to screen unwanted Internet content include whitelisting, blacklisting, monitoring activity, keyword recognition, or blocking-specific functions such as e-mail or instant messages (IM). Filtering options are available through parental control software.

Firewall: A security system usually made up of hardware and software used to block hackers, viruses, and other malicious threats to your computer.

Flame: A hostile, strongly worded message that may contain obscene language.


Gamer tag: The nickname a user has chosen to be identified by when playing Internet games.

Gaming: Internet games, which can be played either individually or by multiple online users at the same time.

Griefers: Internet gamers who intentionally cause problems and/or cyberbully other gamers (i.e., individuals who play online games).

Grooming: Refers to the techniques sexual predators use to get to know and seduce their victims in preparation for sexual abuse.


Hardware: A term for the actual computer equipment and related machines or computer parts.

History: A tracking feature of Internet browsers that shows all the recent websites visited.

Homepage: The site that is the starting point on the web for a particular group or organization.


Identity Theft: In this crime, someone obtains the vital information (e.g., credit card, social security number, bank account numbers) of another person, usually to steal money. E-mail scams, spyware, and viruses are among the most typical methods for stealing someone’s identity.

Instant message/messaging (IM): Private, real-time text conversation between two users.

Internet (net): A giant collection of computer networks that connects people and information all over the world.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC): A multi-use live chat facility. IRC is an area of the Internet comprising thousands of chat rooms. IRC is run by IRC servers and requires client software to use.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): A generic term for any company that can connect you directly to the Internet. 


Jpeg (Joint Partner experts group or Joint Photographic experts group): A popular file format for graphic images on the Internet.


Malware: stands for malicious software or code, which includes any harmful code—trojans, worms, spyware, adware, etc.—that is designed to damage the computer or collect information.

Mobile web: The World Wide Web as accessed from mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs, notebooks, and other portable gadgets connected to a public network. Access does not require a desktop computer.

Modem: A device installed in your computer or an external piece of hardware that connects your computer to the Internet through a phone or cable line and allows communication between computers.

Monitoring Software: Software products that allow parents to monitor or track the websites or e-mail messages that a child visits or reads.

Mouse: A small hand-controlled device for pointing and clicking to make selections on the screen.


Netiquette: Rules or manners for interacting courteously with others online (such as not typing  a message in all capital letters, which is equivalent to shouting).


Password: A secret word or number that must be used to gain access to an online service or to modify software, such as a parental control.

Parental controls: specific features or software that allow parents to manage the online activities of children.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) computing: A method of sharing files directly over the internet from one Internet-enabled device to another (computer, mobile phone, etc.), without being routed through a server.

Phishing: A type of online fraud, where someone tries to trick the victim into revealing sensitive details, such as a username, password, or credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in electronic communication.r.

Post: To upload information to the Web.


Real-time: “Live” time; the actual time during which something takes place.


Search engine: An Internet service that helps you search for information on the web.

Sexting: Cell phone, computer and other mobile device users—often teens and ‘tweens’—create and exchange provocative messages and nude, sexual images of themselves using their cell phone’s built-in digital camera and text messaging capabilities.

Skype™: A popular computer program that enables users to set up profiles, make free phone calls, chat, and video chat through their computer or mobile device from any point around the world. This free service functions through a “peer-to-peer” network, which allows individuals to communicate directly with each other rather than through a central server.  Since the conversations and content exchanged through skype are not scrutinized by monitors, children are at risk of exposure to inappropriate material and dangerous people.

Smart TV’s: The term has come to denote any television that can be connected to the Internet to access streaming media services and that can run entertainment apps, such as on-demand video-rental services, Internet music stations and Web browsers. Smart TVs use either a direct, wired Ethernet connection or built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a home network for Internet access. 

SMS: Stands for “short Message service,” a form of text messaging on cell phones, sometimes used between computers and cell phones.

Social Media: Online communities, also known as social networks, where people share information about themselves, music files, photos, etc. There are many social networking websites (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Friendster).

Software: A program, or set of instructions, that runs on a computer.

Spam: Any unsolicited e-mail, or junk mail. Most spam is either a money scam or sexual in nature. Internet service Providers, e-mail software, and other software can help block some, but not all, spam.

Spyware: A wide variety of software installed on people’s computers, which collects information about you without your knowledge or consent and sends it back to whoever wrote the spyware program. The programs typically will track computer use and create numerous pop-up ads. in some instances, the spyware can damage the computer and facilitate identity theft.

Surfing: Similar to channel surfing on a television, Internet surfing involves users browsing around various websites following whatever interests them.


Texting: A method of sending short messages (also called SMSes, txts, or text messaging) between mobile phones and other computer-enabled devices.

Twitter: Twitter is a social media site that lets its users send short messages (or “tweets”) to a network of connected users online. Twitter is similar in form to features on other social networking and instant messaging sites that allow users to update their “status” or leave an “away message” to let their friends know what they are up to in real-time, all the time. On Twitter, this is also called “micro-blogging”; individuals have 140 characters to let the world know what’s on their mind or to send a tweet about something they care about.


Uniform Resource Locator (url): The address of a site on the internet. For example, the uRL for the White house is: Each URL is unique and there are millions of them.

Upload: To send information from your computer to another computer.

Username: The name a user selects to be identified on a computer, on a network, or in an online gaming forum.


Videocam (webcam): Video cameras that are either attached or built into a computer so that a video image can be sent to another while communicating online.

Virus: A self-replicating software program that typically arrives through e-mail attachments and which multiplies on the hard drive, quickly exhausting the computer’s memory. A trojan is a variation that allows unauthorized users access to the computer, from which they can send infected e-mails or spam.


Wireless computers: Many networks now allow computers access to the Internet without being connected with wires. These networks are becoming increasingly more popular and powerful, allowing people to access the Internet using cell phones and other devices.

World Wide Web (www or web): A hypertext-based navigation system on the Internet that lets you browse through a variety of linked resources, using typed commands or clicking on hot links.