A mom's guide to techno terms

Jan 1, 2011 at 2:59 a.m. ET

When technology jargon can become outdated almost as quickly as the computer you bought last year, it can be hard to keep up. Here are a few basic techno terms every mom should know when talking electronics with kids.

Confused mom on computer


The term may bring to mind tall blue people prancing through the trees, but in techno terms, an avatar refers to the pictorial representation of a person on the Internet.


Bluetooth refers to short-range wireless network that can connect mobile devices such as cell phones to computers or accessories. With a Bluetooth-enabled headset, you can answer your phone without digging through your purse.


Bytes are used to measure data in the same way centimeters measure length. Internet transfer speed and electronic storage capacity are often measured in mega- or gigabytes.


That little sad face your teenager texts you in response to your curfew reminder is an example of an emoticon, a textual expression of an emotion.


A firewall is a combination of software and hardware that prevents unauthorized access to a computer or network.


Hypertext markup language (HTML) is the language or code used in website development. Colors, fonts, text size and location all correspond to HTML codes.

IP address

An Internet protocol (IP) address is an identification number assigned to all devices connected to the Internet. Many web pages use IP addresses to track the location of their visitors.


This term, short for picture element, refers to the smallest component of a digital image. When shopping for digital cameras, televisions or computer monitors, more pixels means a higher quality resolution.

RSS feedRSS feed

A really simple syndication (RSS) is the method used to subscribe to online content, such as blog posts or podcasts, much like you subscribe to the newspaper or your favorite magazines.


This term refers to unsolicited emails or other unwanted electronic content. The person or company who sends out bulk emails is called a spammer.


A computer virus is a program or code that replicates itself on your hard drive, much like its biological cousin does in your body. Next time your child tells you he has a virus, you may be heading to the computer repair center instead of the doctor.


This is not the dreadful floral print adorning the walls of your grandma's kitchen. Wallpaper is the customizable background image on your computer desktop or cell phone screen.

Internet privacy tips

How to maximize Facebook privacy

Facebook recently changed their privacy settings in response to criticism from EFF and privacy-conscious users. The purpose of this video is to show you how to get the most privacy out of these new settings.

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