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Internet 101


What's the Internet?

The Internet is a linking of computer networks. Think of each network as a neighborhood in your town. You can speak with the neighbor next door or across the street by simply walking next door. By using the roads within your neighborhood, you can walk or drive to any other neighborhood in your city and speak to anyone. Now think of the Internet as the electronic road that connects all the neighborhoods of your city, state and the world. This connection makes it possible for anyone with access to the Internet to visit, chat, or speak with anyone else connected to the Internet. It makes the world an online global village.

What is a chat room?

A chat room is a type of virtual park. A chat room allows people from anywhere in the world to visit the same virtual park. Depending on the provider of the chat room, it can contain anywhere from one to a thousand people. Usually chat rooms are named for the content that will be discussed in the chat room, such as Gardening, Home Repair, or Classic Cars. Unfortunately, some chat rooms are created for illegal purposes, and kids may find their way into these chat rooms. Most service providers will close these rooms upon notification of their existence.

What is an instant message?

An instant message is a private communication between two people online using a chat client (instant messaging software). If I am in a chat room and type something, anyone in the chat room can read the message. This means if there are a hundred people in the room, ninety-eight other people may read the message. By using an instant message, you can ensure that only the intended recipient can read the message. Instant messaging is a form of private, one-on-one chatting, which can allow a sexual predator access to potential victims.

What is an e-mail message?

An e-mail message can be a basic typed message that is very similar to a letter delivered by the postal service. The message can be on any topic and may also include an attachment such as a photograph or movie. Photographs may also be embedded in the e-mail message itself, which allows them to be viewed in the body of the e-mail message without downloading or using another program to view the images.

E-mail messages can also include hyperlinks that, when clicked, direct you to a Web site, picture, movie, or even content that would be harmful to your computer. Links within an e-mail message can be dangerous and should always be treated with suspicion.

What is an e-mail message?

A Web site is a type of electronic or digital store front. Using the Internet you can browse through these "stores" and view the goods for sale or trade. Some store fronts are only informational and may provide assistance with homework, research, or medical questions. Just as some store fronts in real life can be located in dangerous areas of our communities, store fronts on the Internet can be dangerous. They may link you to other store fronts with content for sale that you never asked for or wanted to view. These store fronts can be the source of dangerous or malicious computer programs designed to steal personal information, infect your computer with a virus, or acquire remote access to your computer. The best advice for visiting any digital store front is to type in the name of the store front yourself. Do not trust links from e-mails or another digital store front.

What is a file?

A file is the term used to describe many things within a computer or the digital world. A file can be just words, or a mixture of words and pictures. The most common file types are:

  • Text File: Words or words and pictures (e.g., a letter or school report).
  • Image File: .bmp, .jpg, .mpg. These are all different formats to display a picture or movie.
  • HTML: This stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and makes it possible to click on a different colored word or underlined word and view additional information on that subject. It also allows you to be linked from an e-mail message to a Web site or from one part of a Web site to another.

What is a jpg, gif, mpg, mp3?

These are commonly used extensions that tell the computer what program can read, display, and/or play the file. A file with the extensions of .jpg, .gif, or .bmp will contain pictures. A file with the extension of .mpg will contain a movie, with or without sound. A file with the extension of .mp3 will contain an audio file. This can be a sound file or one containing a song or entire album of songs.

What is a Trojan?

A Trojan is a computer file that seeks to sneak into your computer or onto your Web site and allow certain unauthorized activity to take place on your computer or Web site. The Trojan file maybe received in an e-mail, or inadvertently downloaded from a Web site. A Trojan can be disguised as a picture or audio file sent during a chat or instant message conversation, or it can be obtained by using digital media from another person or computer system - such as borrowing a homemade compact disk, floppy disk or thumb drive. Once the Trojan is installed on your computer it can cause many things to happen, including the destruction of data, copying of data, and/or the allowing remote access to your computer by someone else on the Internet. The use of UPDATED anti-virus and firewall programs can greatly reduce the risk of being victimized by a Trojan.

What is Spyware?

Spyware is software that is usually installed on your computer without your knowledge. In some cases, however, you may unknowingly grant permission to install spyware by accepting the terms of a user agreement form with a hidden clause about spyware installation. Spyware may be used to monitor your use of programs and report back to manufacturers on how or how often you use the programs. Spyware can track your online habits and report back information on your shopping habits. It can also record and report your personal data. There are several free anti-spyware tools that can be used to identify and deal with spyware on your computer. Frequently updated anti-virus and firewall programs can also aid in identifying and defeating spyware programs.

What is a Blog or Online Journal?

Blogs or online journals are Web sites that allow an individual to "post" or write anything online. Most blogs or online journals are used to relate the author's viewpoint on many different subjects. Our kids may use blogs or online journals as their digital coming-out party. Kids will often open a blog or online journal to relate what is happening in their lives, such as school, after school activities, girlfriends, boyfriends and the rest of their social life. The blog or online journal may allow for interaction from readers, by allowing readers to post replies or make comments on the child's online entries. As with online profiles, blogs and online journals need to be monitored to make sure the child is not giving out too much information. Some blogs or online journals contain the child's full name, address, telephone number, name of school, and the date and location where the child can be found at after school activities. Obviously, this type of information could be very dangerous in the hands of a sexual predator. Most kids have the misconception that whatever they write on their blog or online journal is private and can only be read by people to whom they give permission. This is not always true. There are several free search engines for blogs and online journals that may display what the child thought was private to anyone who knows how to use the search engine.

What is a Profile?

A profile is a list of personal information that the author of the profile is willing to share. When filling out a profile you must remember that anyone using the Internet may be able to see the information in your profile. Information such as your full name, your address, school name, dorm room location, and telephone number can be dangerous to include in a profile. This type of information may lead to unwanted contacts or stalking. Providing information such as your full name and date of birth may increase your risk of being victimized by online predators.

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