One of the challenges of keeping kids safe online is that there are a lot of terms that parents aren’t really familiar with. Here are 35 of them related to online safety, cybersecurity, and general internet usage. How many did you know already?


The various generations of cellphone communication standards. 3G introduced the simultaneous use of speech and data services and higher data rates. 4G focused on faster connection speeds, while the recently introduced 5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually all internet-capable devices.


Short for ‘web address,’ also known as a URL (or Uniform Resource Locator) often is used to describe a web address or the location of a website.


A computer program that bombards you with adverts. They can also change your browser’s homepage and install spyware. Adware is sometimes sneakily bundled with seemingly normal apps and is often installed without people realizing it.

Antivirus Software:

A program used to detect, prevent, and remove viruses on your computer or mobile device.


Also called a “web browser.” A program that allows you to use the internet to view websites. Examples include Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Opera.


A link that entices you to click on it, usually accomplished by using exaggerated or misleading titles and images. Literally “baiting for clicks.”


Small files created by the websites you visit that save your browsing information. This allows sites to keep you signed in, remember your preferences, and give you locally relevant content. Third-party cookies are sent by a website other than the one you are currently on, a practice that has fallen out of favor with online privacy advocates.


The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. A legal ruling that went into effect in April 2000, which requires websites that market to children under the age of 13 to get “verifiable parental consent” before allowing children access to their sites. Not to be confused with COPA, the Child Online Protection Act of 1998, a similar piece of legislation introduced around the same time that was ultimately struck down.


Bullying and harassment carried out through electronic means, such as e-mail, text messages, or posts on social media.


Stalking someone online. Can sometimes involve open harassment, but other times the victim may be unaware that they are being stalked at all.

Cyber Hygiene:

The act of protecting and maintaining IT systems and implementing cybersecurity best practices. As the name suggests, it compares cybersecurity to personal hygiene, in that it is a series of smaller steps that make up a larger routine that supports overall health.

Digital Reputation:

The “digital footprint” you create through all of things you say and do online, along with what others post about you. This includes everything from the people and websites you follow, the content that you share, and the comments you make. Everything that you do online contributes to your digital reputation, which in turn can affect aspects of your day-to-day life.

Family Media Agreement:

An agreement among family members that outlines how they should deal with computers, smartphones, gaming consoles, and other internet-capable devices. A good way to teach and encourage safe online behavior.

File Extension:

A short series of letters and/or numerals at the end of a computer filename, used to indicate what type of file it is (i.e., .mp3, .doc, .exe)


A network security system that monitors incoming and outcoming network traffic, then either permits or blocks data based on a set of security rules. Used to protect computer networks from harmful software or unauthorized users.


The act of sending offensive and aggressive messages to a specific person over the internet.


When a player in an online game deliberately goes out of their way to irritate and harass other players within the game.


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

Identity Theft:

A common type of fraud where a criminal steals someone’s personal information (name, account numbers, etc.) and uses it for illegal purposes. This includes making fraudulent purchases, obtaining credit, procuring free medical care, or avoiding legal complications.

In-App Purchases:

A practice used in some mobile games where players can buy virtual “extras” related to the app using real money.

Incognito Mode:

An option provided by web browser Google Chrome, which allows you to browse the inter without creating a history of what sites you’ve visited. It also prevents cookies from being stored. It is only recommended that children use this on public computers or on any computer they use away from home.


Short for ‘malicious software’. A general term for any type of program that can damage your computer (viruses), steal your personal information (spyware), display unwanted adverts (adware) or expose your computer to hackers (Trojan horses).

Online Grooming:

Sometimes just called grooming. When a predator attempts to befriend and gain the trust of a minor, the ultimate goal being to lead them toward sexually explicit conversations, exposure to sexually explicit materials, and sexual abuse. The process can last anywhere between a few minutes to several months.

Parental Controls:

A group of settings found in many types of software that limit what type of content children can see.


Pronounced ‘fishing,’ a form of internet scam where cybercriminals will send emails or other messages which pretend to come from banks, online shops, and other legitimate sources. These emails often include links to malicious websites or requests for personal information that can be used to access your bank accounts and credit cards.


Digital piracy specifically refers to the practice of downloading and/or distributing copyrighted content without permission. Not only is online piracy illegal, but cybercriminals will often disguise viruses and other harmful software as downloads of popular media to trick people.

Privacy Policy:

A company’s official privacy statement, which covers how they handle and use any personal information they collect from visitors to their websites.


The act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, usually via text message.


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.


A person who posts inflammatory comments or messages in an online community such as a forum, chat room, blog, or social networking site. Mostly done to get attention, trolling can range from annoying to outright harmful.


A software program designed to infect, steal, or destroy files on your computer. They generally get downloaded accidentally, often while visiting shady websites or answering phishing emails.

Virtual Worlds

A type of online software/game in which users can navigate a virtual world and interact with each other via avatars. Examples include Webkinz, Second Life, and Roblox.


Short for Virtual Private Network. A service that protects your internet connection and privacy online by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your IP address so that your online actions are virtually untraceable.

Web Filtering:

A type of technology that stops users from viewing certain URLs or websites. Web filters are designed to block out both harmful websites (sites that host malware, viruses, and phishing) or that have content that you might not want to be accessible (pornography).


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