The internet (simply known as “net”) is a vast information resource. It is a network of computers from around the world connected to each other through satellites, telephone lines and cables. You can find virtually anything in the internet, including stores, newspapers, bill payment gateways, TV programs, sports scores and a wide range of information in different media – from pictures to videos to text.
For your computer to connect to the internet, you’ll need an ISP (internet service provider), which can be found on your home phone, mobile phone or cable TV provider. Even a local café or supermarket chain can provide internet connection. Anyone can use the internet as long as you have an internet-enabled device, such as computers, cell phones, tablets and other gadgets. Once you are connected (or “logged on”) to the net, you can receive and broadcast all kinds of signals.
If you just decided on learning the internet, here’s a guide for beginners to help you with your way around the web.
Basic Internet Skills: Surfing the ‘Net, Accessing E-mails and Chatting
1. Browsing the Web – If you reached this page, you’re off to a good start. This means your computer or device already has a web browser, which is used in viewing web pages.
- Web Browsers – There are different types of web browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Netscape, but most of these browsers have similar features. Since every website has a unique address (called a URL that usually looks like www.myURL.com), you need to input this URL in the address bar on top of your browser to visit a website you like.
- Hyperlinks – To put it simply, websites can be compared to books with a cover (homepage) and plenty of pages (web pages). To read other pages, you need to click a hyperlink (or turn the page). This process is called surfing or browsing the web. Hyperlinks are usually underlined and in blue text, but they can also be in other colors. They are clickable, and may be a button, an image or a text. When you move your cursor over a hyperlink, the cursor changes from an arrow to a pointing hand.
- Back, Forward, Stop and Reload Buttons – The three most important buttons you need to know in browsing the web are back, forward and stop. If you click the back button, you’ll be redirected to the last web page you viewed. If you click the forward button, you’ll go back to the current page. The stop button, however, stops the current page from loading. People usually use this button if they clicked a link unintentionally. If a page is taking too long to load, you can use the reload or “refresh” button to reload the current page.
- Multiple Pages – Web browsers today allow you to view multiple web pages at the same time by opening a new “window.” If you wish to view another page, but prefer to stay on the current page, simply click the right-side mouse button and choose “Open in New Window.”
- Search Engines – To be able to search for information or websites on the internet, you need to use a search engine. There are hundreds of search engines available online, but the most popular ones are Yahoo!, Google, Bing and Baidu (in China). To use a search engine, you first need to open your web browser. Then, type the search engine of your choice into the address bar and click go. Although search engines may look different, all of them have a search box and a search button. By typing in your search terms (known as key words) into the search field and pressing “enter,” you can now view hundreds of websites with the information you are looking for. The most popular sites are listed on top of the list. Simply click the link and you’ll be redirected to that web page.
2. E-mail (Electronic Mail) – Almost everyone who uses the Internet own his/her personal e-mail. E-mails, as its name suggest, is an electronic mail that you can use to send messages to anyone with an e-mail account, as long as you know their exact e-mail address. E-mails can be created with your internet service provider, but are also available on various free e-mail service such as Google’s Gmail or Yahoo! mail. An e-mail address follows the format: username @ (at symbol) then the domain name = firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Sending an E-mail – Using an e-mail is straightforward. To send a message, simply click the ‘new message’ link. Fill-up the spaces provided for “To” (the e-mail address of your receiver, “Subject” (this is optional – you can leave it blank or type a word or phrase that describes what your message is about) and “Body” (the largest space where you could type your message).
- Attaching Files – You can add photos, videos, documents and other files to your e-mail message by using the attachment option. Most e-mail providers have a size limit for files, so make sure you know how large a file you can add.
- Forward – If you want to forward a message to multiple people, you can use the forward option. There are two ways you can do this – CC (carbon copy) and BCC (blind carbon copy). Use the CC field by adding e-mail addresses of additional people you wish receive the message. If you don’t want the e-mail addresses of recipients seen by other people, you can add their e-mail addresses on the BCC field.
- Dangers – E-mails are one of the most popular ways viruses spread online. Always take caution when opening attachments, even if you know the sender. Be aware that some viruses have the power to destroy all data on your computer. If you’re waiting for files from someone you know, ask him/her to contact you before they send in the files via e-mail.
3. Chat – One of the best things about the internet is the ability to connect to people instantaneously. If you have a family member overseas and find that e-mails are limiting your conversations, you can choose to “chat” instead. Derived from its traditional use, “chatting” involves back and forth messages from you and another person/people.
- Instant Messaging – Instant Messaging is the most popular type of online chat because it allows two or more people to talk without paying for international phone call fees. Instant messengers are available free to download by various providers, such as AOL’s IM, Yahoo!’s messenger, Google G-chat, and ICQ, among others. Depending on the type of messenger you use, you may be asked to register to create a nickname (chat handle), which you can share to your friends so they could add you on their “chat friends list.”
- Website-based Chats – Unlike instant messengers that have their own programs you have to download first, web-based chats are available on personal blogs, social networking websites and other websites such as Facebook.com.
Hundreds of programs and online services provide users with ways to chat. Instant messengers and web-based chats are the most popularly used, but you can always ask a friend or someone you wish to talk to if they use a particular IM service aside from the ones mentioned above.
Discovering the Internet Courses
If you wish to learn the ropes of using the Internet, you can attend a short course about basic Internet skills. You can also ask someone you know to tutor you as you discover the net. However, be aware that the most effective way of discovering the web is by hands-on practice. Don’t be afraid to explore what’s in store for you online. The more you use the web, search engines, e-mails and chats, the faster you can become a pro web surfer.