What Is the Internet?

The Internet is a computer network that links together smaller computer networks through telephone lines, fiber optic networks, and satellites all over the world.

What is a computer network?  At its most basic, a computer network is a group of computers that have been connected with a computer called a server so that they can communicate with each other.

What is the World Wide Web?  Computer software writers using special programs that use HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) create links that connect pages of information together like a giant spider web that is called the World Wide Web (WWW).  Each page on the web has an address called an URL (Universal Resource Locator) which makes it easy to find.  The web has millions of pages of information on it and is growing and changing at this very moment. 

What is the Internet?  The Internet, or 'Net, is the more common name for the World Wide Web.

What will you find on the Internet?  Anyone is free to publish whatever they want on the Internet.  Your school, friends, or members of your family may have a web site.  Many people use the Internet as a resource for news, communication, information, education, business, and entertainment.

What are e-mail and chat?  E-mail is an electronic letter sent over the Internet.  An e-mail can be sent and received in a matter of seconds.  You can also "talk" to a friend in real-time by using your keyboard.  Chat sometimes requires a special software program.  Most modern phone also offer a "texting" feature where you can chat with someone without making a sound.  Be aware that phone companies often charge extra for texting.

Always make sure you have the right address!  Computers are stupid--they can't tell that what you typed isn't exactly what you wanted.

There are several different endings that an address can have.  Some of the better known ones are:

.com (company)
.org (organization)
.gov (govenment)
.edu (educational)

There are other endings:

.aero, .biz, .info, .name, .museum, .pro
plus endings for countries like .us (United States) or .bz (Belize)

If you just guess, and type the wrong  ending (also called a "suffix"), you will go to the wrong site, which could be totally different from what you wanted.

For example, www.whitehouse.gov will take you to the main website for the United States White House and information about the current president.  One the other hand, www.whitehouse.org used to take you to a link that redirects you to another site that mocks the Bush administration, and is not at all for children.  Before that, it used to be even more of a site for adults only.  Also, www.whitehouse.com is a site trying to sell law services for personal injury claims.  Niether site is not what you need for school.

Ready for tips on how to search?  Click here.