Glossary of terms

See the list of online safety and slang glossary terms to explain some tricky words that may need more explanation.

Online safety glossary of terms

Here is an up to date glossary of some words and phrases that are used online and on social media to get familiar with.



Short for application – this is a program or piece of software designed to fulfil a particular purpose and is usually downloaded by a user to a mobile device.


Generally short for ‘web address’– where you find a particular web page or website on the internet, also known as a URL. May also be short for email address.


Computer programs that display adverts on the screen. Often installed without people realising.

Antivirus software

A program that is used to detect, prevent, and remove viruses on your computer or mobile device or that are sent to you in an email, chat message or on a web page.

A social networking site, based in Latvia, through which users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.’s reputation as a platform for cyberbullying has been highlighted in the media, although a change of ownership has promised to stamp out this type of activity.



To have a grudge or start one with another person.


Meaning Best Friends Forever.


To stop a computer reaching something on the internet, to stop a program running, or to stop someone from contacting you on a chat service.


The short term for ‘Be Right Back’ which usually means that people have told their friends via text or internet-based social services that they have gone somewhere for a brief period of time.


A program that allows you to use the World Wide Web to view internet pages. Internet Explorer is the most commonly used browser but Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari are also examples of browsers.


Chat Room

A place on the internet where you can chat to one or more people. A ‘virtual room’ where users can ‘talk’ with each other by typing. Conversations can be one-on-one or can involve a number of people. Some chat rooms are moderated/supervised.


Baiting for clicks. It’s a link which entices you to click on it. Usually referring to YouTube videos with ‘clickbait’ titles to draw users attention to get more views on a video.


A cookie is a small file that is sent to a web browser by a server and stored on the user’s computer. It can then be read by the server every time the user revisits the same website and is used to keep track of personal preferences, shopping choices and other information.


To follow someone’s social network profile closely: to an excessive degree. Can be known as ‘Facebook stalking’. It is not as sinister as it may sound, often creeping is done to catch up with friends, to reminisce about past posts or older content, or to find out more about a friend in whom a person has a romantic interest. This is not always solitary: it can be done by friends viewing and gossiping about another friend’s past posts or content.

Cuff or Cuffing

Cuff is the slang term for being tied down into a relationship and telling the whole world that he or she is yours.


Bullying behaviour which takes places through the use of electronic means, such as through e-mail, mobile phones or posts on a social network. See resource.


A term for the internet, which is often viewed as the online, or virtual, world.


Stalking someone online. May involve harassment but the victim may be unaware that they are being stalked online.



Data is information, stored on computers and other storage devices.


In slang terms, it means something that is rubbish or bad.


The transmission of a file from one computer system to another (often smaller) computer system. From the internet user’s point of view, to download a file is to request it from one computer, or from one web page to another computer, and to receive it.



Buying or selling over the internet, usually from a website.


A way to exchange messages over the internet. Messages are written by one person and then sent to one or more people at their email address.


This is a character set of smileys that were first used in Japan, but have fast become popular across the world.



A slang word, for ‘Facebook Sabotage’, used to describe hijacking, and meddling with, someone’s Facebook account while it is unattended.


A social networking website that lets users create their own profiles, share status updates, pictures, videos and chat with other users.

Facebook Messenger

The Facebook Messenger app is a messaging service that works through the inbox functionality on Facebook.


FaceTime is a video chat application developed by Apple. Specifically, you can use FaceTime from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Mac computer, and you’ll need to be contacting someone on one of these devices as well.

Family agreement

An agreement on how internet access and internet-enabled devices will be used. Should be drawn up and agreed after discussion between family members. This is sometimes referred to as an ‘Online Safety Contract’.


Web addresses stored in your browser, letting you go directly to specific websites/web pages. Also known as ‘bookmarks’.


A means of preventing certain types of material, keywords or anything you decide to block from reaching your computer.


Sending an offensive or aggressive message to a specific person over the internet.



The activity of playing video games. See resource.


Griefing is when a player in an online game deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game.


When a stranger tries to start a relationship with a child for unlawful purposes; this can happen online or offline. See resource.

Ghost or Ghosting

To ‘ghost’ means to avoid someone until they get the picture and stop contacting you.

‘Ghosting’ is when a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice beforehand. You’ll mostly see them avoiding friend’s phone calls, social media, and avoiding them in public.



Hackers are people who gain unauthorised access to data, remotely, using a computer or mobile device.


A hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash symbol #. It is used on social networking sites like Twitter to tag and group messages from different people about a common topic.



A small picture used to represent an action or a file on a computer screen.

IM (Instant Messenger)

Technology similar to that of chat rooms, which notifies a user when a friend is online, allowing them to converse by exchanging text messages. It’s like texting, but online.

In-app purchasing

In-app purchasing allows the user to buy virtual ‘extras’ related to an app when they are using the app. In-app purchases are common with games that are advertised as ‘free to download’, but often purchases of virtual gaming ‘currency’ are required to progress in the game.

Incognito browsing

Incognito browsing is a mode in Google Chrome which allows you to browse without creating a browsing and download history. It also prevents cookies being stored. It is only recommended that children use this on public computers or on any computer they use away from home.


A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)

A company that connects computers to the internet for a fee.

IP (Internet Protocol) address

An IP (Internet Protocol) address as a unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer over a network.

iTunes Store

Apple’s e-commerce site. The iTunes store has songs, movies, music videos and apps that can be purchased and downloaded to an Apple device or (with the exception of apps) be played on a PC using iTunes.


Jail bait

Someone who is under the age of consent but who dresses, acts and appears as if they are over the age of consent and who does nothing to correct that impression.

Jam or Jammin'

A song that a person is particularly fond of, sometimes to the point of being their personal anthem or theme song. Derived from the expression “jamming out”. To ‘jam’ also means that you chilling.



A laptop is a small computer that you can carry around with you and that runs off batteries.


Short for ‘hyperlink’, clicking on it will take you to a pre-defined location, such as another web page, or cause a document to open in your browser. Links are often shown as bold, underlined or coloured text.


Slang for when something is really good or fun.

Log off

To disconnect from a computer, network or online service.

Log on

Identify yourself to a computer, network or online service, usually using a user name and password.


A login is a name you use to tell a computer or a website who you are.



Short for ‘malicious software’. Programs that damage your computer (viruses), steal your personal information (spyware), display unwanted adverts (adware) or expose your computer to hackers (Trojan horses).


Microsoft Messenger was retired in 2013, and has now moved to Skype.


Multimedia messages, most commonly picture messages and video you can send and receive with a mobile handset.


The role of the moderator is to ensure that all comments adhere to the explicit conditions of use and it is their responsibility to remove comments that breach these rules.
For example, a moderator in a chatroom will ensure that any comments posted adhere to the rules of that chatroom.



These are the buttons on a web page that enable you to move around a site. A site’s quality can often be ascertained by how easy it is to navigate.


The shortened word for the ‘internet’


A number of computers that are linked together so that they can exchange data.



Not online. Not connected to the internet. Modern usage can see ‘offline’ used in the context of real life: if you meet someone offline you are meeting in the real world.


If you are online you are connected to the internet and can share data with other computers.

Online grooming

Some people use the internet to exploit young people for sex; visiting social networks, games and chat rooms as a way of getting close to children so that they can exploit them or even blackmail them for sexual purposes. Befriending a child in this way is called grooming. See resource.

Operating System (OS)

The main program that controls the operation of a computer and lets the user call other programs and gain access to files and other data. The three most common operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac OS and Linux.


Parental controls

Parental controls are the names for a group of settings that put you in control of what content your child can see. Combined with privacy settings these can help you protect your children from the things they shouldn’t see or experience online. See resource.


A word or series of letters, numbers and characters that only you know, which you use to log on to computers, networks or online services.


PDF is a file format that preserves most attributes (including colour, formatting, graphics, and more) of a source document no matter which application, platform, and hardware type was originally used to create it. PDFs are often opened with Adobe Acrobat, although there are other PDF readers available.


A person who is the same age or has the same social position or the same abilities as other people in a group.


Pronounced ‘farming’, this is a method by which scammers try to get personal/private information from users by directing them to false – or ‘spoof’ – websites which look legitimate in your browser.


Pronounced ‘fishing’, this is an attempt to trick people into visiting malicious websites by sending emails or other messages which pretend to come from banks or online shops.


An ongoing series or episodes of a particular programme that can be downloaded automatically or manually. These are usually mp3 audio files or video podcasts.


A program – spelt the American way – is a collection of instructions to a computer that get it to do something useful, like show a picture or display a web page or change a document. Every time you want to do something on a computer you need to use one or more programs.


Social networking sites and some chat rooms let users complete a personal profile which others can see. Children and teenagers should never include in a profile any information that could identify them, or disclose where they are.



Sadfishing is a growing social trend where young people make exaggerated comments about their emotional issues to get sympathy from others.

It also means that those who are experiencing real emotional distress may be accused of sadfishing and dismissed by their peers without getting the right support.

Search engine

A Search Engine is a website, such as Google, that lets you search for other websites by typing in the words that define the content you are looking for.


Short for ‘self portrait’, selfies are photographs of the photographer, often taken at arm’s length.


The term ‘sexting’ is used to describe the sending and receiving of sexually explicit photos, messages or video clips.


A mobile phone that can perform many of the functions of a computer including browsing the internet, taking and sharing photos and videos, playing games, shopping, downloading apps, getting on social networking sites and using instant messaging and video calling.


Short for ‘Short Message Service’. The technical term for text messages.


A photo-sharing app where users can send photos or videos to their friends.

Social networking sites

Social networking sites allow members to keep in touch with friends and family, meet people with similar interests, share photos and videos and find out new things.


A method of viewing films or videos online and also of listening to audio online. Internet radio is an example of a device that streams content. See resource.


A general term for a program that secretly monitors your actions. While they are sometimes sinister, like a remote-control program used by a hacker, software companies have been known to use spyware to gather data about customers.


Originally spam was an email message sent to a large number of people without their consent, usually promoting a product or service.

Also known as Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) or junk email. Now spam is not limited to email, spam comments appear on blogs, social networking sites and many other places on the net.



A mobile computer with screen and workings in a single flat unit about the size of a large envelope.


Tags are the keywords given to content – web pages, posts, pictures, videos, music or files – by a user or by other people. Tags aren’t predefined – they are chosen by the user to best describe the content.

Third-party applications (apps)

Third-party applications (or apps) are elements of any service which aren’t produced by the host service but by another company or individual. These can be downloaded onto your internet-enabled device. iTunes and Google Play are examples of where you can purchase and download apps.


TikTok is a social networking app that replaced the popular app when it went offline in 2017. See resource.


Tinder is similar to Grindr but for the heterosexual community. Users are ‘selected’ by other users as someone they’d like to meet by swiping right on their photo. If they’re not interested, they swipe left to ‘reject’ them and see more options. As it’s location-based, Tinder introduces users to ‘matches’ within the closest radius.

Troll or Trolling

A troll is a person who posts inflammatory comments or messages in an online community such as a forum, chat room, blog or on social networking sites.


A social network that lets users send and read “tweets” messages limited to 280 characters.



To copy information from your internet-enabled device to the internet or your computer/laptop.


Short for Uniform Resource Locator, a URL is the address which links to a specific webpage. The URL for Internet Matters is Also known as a ‘web address’.


Video calling

Video calling is just like a regular phone call, except you can see the person you’re calling and they can see you.

Video conferencing

A video conference is a live, visual connection between two or more people residing in separate locations for the purpose of communication.


A virus is a piece of software that can do different things such as delete files, steal data or even take over computers for hackers to control. Viruses find their way into computers via email, from a file downloaded via the internet or from a disc. Antivirus software should be installed to protect computers. Smartphones can also be infected by viruses and should be protected.


This is a common term on the internet. It means a simulation of the real thing. The internet itself is often seen as a virtual world where you make virtual friends and become a part of virtual communities.

Voice over IP (VOIP)

VOIP is a term used to describe making a telephone (voice) call over the internet.



Abbreviation for World Wide Web.


A camera, either built into the device or plugged in, that allows images and videos to be shared over the internet. Smartphones have cameras built-in allowing them to be used as a webcam for video calling and Skype.


A webinar (a combination of the words “web” and “seminar”) is a video workshop, lecture, or presentation hosted online using webinar software.


A collection of web pages. Websites perform different functions e.g. news sites, educational sites, games sites.


A Chinese text and voice messaging social network that allows users to communicate with people nearby or internationally.


Free-of-charge, real-time Users can share images and videos, take part in ‘group chats’ and share locations. As it’s based on knowing the user’s phone number, you can only message users if you already know their telephone number. Read more.


A wireless network that allows internet-enabled devices to connect to the internet without the need for cables.



Yolo which stands for ‘you only live once’ is an anonymous question and answer app that is used within Snapchat. Users can post anonymous questions and comments on a Snapchat story and also attached an image. See resource.



Made by ChildLine, Zipit aims to help teenagers deal with difficult sexting and flirting situations. The app offers humorous comebacks and advice to help teenagers stay in control of flirting when chatting.



A 5th generation mobile network. 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.


Third generation – a mobile standard that offers fast connections to enable you to make video calls or access the internet.


Fourth generation mobile with even faster connections to make it much quicker to surf the web on your mobile, tablets and laptops. Speeds are nearer to what you currently experience with home broadband.