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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

January 20, 2020

Information Technology

IT glossary and tech tools for kids.

In a classroom, a teacher guides a preteen student through a lesson on a laptop.

IT glossary: Tech terms, tools, and resources for kids.

To meet the expectations of a complex, dynamic, and ever-evolving world, it is important that students have the opportunity to learn skills that help them gather and make sense of information. These skills will help them solve problems, and evaluate evidence to make decisions or find solutions to challenges and are often developed in science, technology, engineering, math, and computer science disciplines — also known as STEM. 

STEM occupations have an above-average growth rate. Seven out of the ten largest STEM occupations found were computer-related, employing nearly 750,000 applications software developers, the largest STEM occupation. Learning how to create software starts with developing tech literacy, which can be done with hands-on activities in early Stem Education. Students can then attend universities like WGU to get involved in specific STEM programs like software development so they can truly be prepared for this exciting career field.

Developing tech and STEM skills amongst young learners is imperative for encouraging the development and education students will need to compete in not just national, but global competitiveness in economic growth and standards of living. Early exposure to subjects in STEM can help build strong foundations of understanding and enjoyment that encourage kids to study information technology at the college level. This can become a gateway to both academic success and even new, exciting careers in the future.

Tech terms for kids.

Technology has changed the way that people live, communicate, learn, and play. Understanding the meaning of the language and vocabulary words used to describe computers and the internet is important to developing a foundational understanding and appreciation for interacting with technology.

Common computer use terms.

The following terms should provide a practical glossary than can be used to understand the basic functions of computer use.

Basic functions.

  • Caret - A caret is the small blinking line that shows where the next number or letter you type will go.

  • Click - A click is when you press the mouse button (usually the left one), using the cursor. This is usually used to interact with a program or document on a computer.

  • Cursor - The cursor is a pointer that shows your position on a computer screen, and is used to make a selection. The cursor is usually moved by a mouse or touchpad and makes a selection by clicking a mouse button.

  • Double-click - A double click is two clicks of a mouse button quickly, one after the other. A double click is used to make a selection, or interact with a program or document on a computer.

  • Drag and Drop - Drag and drop is used to move an object you clicked on. To do this, hold the button down when you click on something, and move it using the mouse, and release the button. The object will move where you drag it, and stay where you drop it.

  • Input - Input is the definition of something going into the computer. This can include entering data from a keyboard, or another computer, or device.

  • Left-/Right-Click - A mouse usually has at least two buttons. Pressing the left button is a left click. The left click is usually the main mouse button used for common tasks. Pressing the right button is a right-click. This button usually opens up a menu or other choices for operation.

  • Output - This may be anything that is generated by a computer, and is usually transferred from an output device such as a display screen, speaker, or printer. This may include information, sounds, or photos. 

Coding terms.

  • Bit - A bit is the smallest measure of data in a computer. A bit has a single binary value, meaning it has a value of zero, or one. 

  • Bug - A bug is a coding error in a computer program..

  • Code - Code is the instructions in a file or computer program written in a programming language. The code is also called software.

  • Command - A command is given to a computer, by a user, that tells it to do something. This can be done by clicking on a button, or by typing a command and pressing the ENTER key. Many commands together can equal a code.

  • Debugging - The process of finding and fixing bugs in a computer program.

  • Function - A function is a specific section of a program that performs a task or routine. 

  • If-Statement - An if-statement is a part of code or programming that will perform a function or display information when the if-statement is proved true. 

  • Program - A program is an application, or a piece of software. It is written in code, also known as programming language.

Logging on/off.

  • Log-On/Log-Off - Logging on is signing into a system to be a user for a session. Logging off ends a user session and will require a log on to run the program again.

  • Password - A password is a word, phrase, or string of characters that a user keeps secret and uses to log into a program.

  • Username - A username is a name that was chosen for identification to log into a program.

On the desktop.

  • Desktop - The desktop is the working area of the computer screen. Icons and files may be placed here to access programs.

  • Screensaver - A screen saver is an image, rotation of images, or animation that replaces the desktop or display when after a period of no use or interaction.

  • Shortcut - A shortcut is a record of an address or file that makes quick access.

  • Taskbar - The taskbar is a bar at the edge of the display or desktop that allows quick access to favorited, or running applications.

  • Wallpaper - Wallpaper is also known as the background on a desktop. It is usually a picture or digital image that was chosen by the user.

Data and memory terms.

  • Data - Data is information that has been stored on a computer. This information can be in the form of text documents, images, sound clips, software and programs, and more. People who study Data management and data analytics learn to use raw data to find make conclusions about that information. 

  • Kilobyte/Megabyte/Gigabyte - Computer data is measured in bytes. A kilobyte, or KB, is 1,024 bytes. A megabyte, or MB, is 1,024 kilobytes. A gigabyte, or GB is 1,024 megabytes.

  • Memory - Memory is the physical device that stores information for operating systems, software and programs, and hardware.

  • Operating System - An operating system is the program/software or set of programs or software that supports a computer’s basic function and is used to operate the computer’s various parts. 

  • Packets - A packet is a small amount of data that includes information on where it is coming from, where it is going to, as well as the data, or content it is transferring. A packet is usually sent over a network, such as the internet.

  • Software - Software is the instructions, program, or operating information that tells a computer what to do, or how to perform a task.
Computer hardware and wires

The physical parts of a computer.

The following terms should provide a practical glossary than can be used to understand the physical parts that make up a computer.

Computer components.

  • CD/Blu-Ray Drive - A CD/Blu-Ray Drive reads a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc, and allows access to the information on the disc, on the computer. 

  • Computer Case - A computer case, is the physical case that holds the components of a computer. This usually excludes the display, keyboard, mouse, and sometimes speakers.

  • Hard Disk Drive - A hard disk drive, HDD, or hard drive, is used as a secondary storage device used to permanently store data. 

  • Laptop - A laptop is a portable computer, typically in the shape of a clamshell. Inside the clamshell, the top half is the display, and the bottom half is a keyboard and trackpad.

  • Motherboard - A motherboard is essential to a computer system. It is a circuit board holds many of the important parts of the computer hardware and allows communication between them.

  • Personal Computer (PC) - A personal computer is a multi-purpose computer that is designed and intended for personal use.

  • Power Supply - The power supply adapts the AC power a computer takes in, into DC power the internal components of a computer need.

  • Solid State Drive (SSD) - A solid-state drive, or SSD is a storage device that connects to a computer and maintains data, even with power.

  • Sound Card - A sound card is usually built into the motherboard, but can be an additional expansion for producing sound on a computer that can be heard through speakers or headphones.

  • Video Card - A video card is also known as a display or video adapter, graphics card, or video controller. It is hardware that attaches to the motherboard to create the display picture. 

  • Universal Serial Bus (USB) - A universal serial bus is what is called a plug and play interface, meaning it allows it is a port that allows communication and interaction with other devices. 

Input/output devices.

  • Keyboard - A computer keyboard is made up of buttons that reference letters, numbers, and symbols. It is one of the primary input devices used to interact with a computer. 

  • Monitor - A monitor is the video display terminal or output device, meaning the monitor is the screen of your computer in which you view the desktop, applications, or computer programs.

  • Mouse - The mouse is a handheld device that is used to control the cursor to select text, icons, files, or folders.

  • Printer - A printer is an external hardware output device that prints copies of documents from a computer to a piece of paper.

  • Scanner - A scanner is an external hardware input device. A scanner takes an image, drawing, or body of text on a hard copy, or piece of paper and copies it into a digital file that can be viewed on a computer.

  • Speakers - A computer speaker is a hardware device that allows a computer to generate sound.

A globe sits in the foreground while a man works on a laptop in the background.

Internet terms to know.

The following terms should provide a practical glossary that can be used to understand different applications and ways to use or work with the internet.

Basic internet terms.

  • Download - Downloading is the process of copying data from one source to another. 

  • Email - Electronic mail, or email, is/are messages that may contain text, files, images, or attachments. Emails are sent through a network, or over the internet from one person to another.

  • Internet - The internet, also known as the interconnected network, the net, or the web, is a global network that provides information and communication. 

  • Internet Service Provider (ISP) - An internet service provider (ISP), or network provider, is a company that provides internet access to its customers.

  • Network - A network is the sharing of data through a collection of computers, servers, network devices, or mainframes. A great example of a network is the internet, where devices and computers from millions of people are connected.

  • Modem - A modem is a hardware device that connects a computer or router to a network.

  • Online - The term “online” refers to a user, computer, or device that is connected to the internet, or a network.

  • Server - A server is a computer that provides data to other computers, typically over the internet or a network.

  • Surfing - Surfing the internet means browsing a variety of web pages. It is usually done by moving from one page of the internet to the next by clicking hyperlinks. 

  • Upload - The term upload refers to data being sent from a computer or device to the internet. 

  • Wi-Fi - The term Wi-Fi is short for wireless networking technology that provides high-speed internet and network connections.

Navigating the web.

  • Bookmarks - A bookmark, sometimes called a “favorite,” saves a web page’s address.

  • Browser - Sometimes called a web or internet browser, a browser is a software program used to navigate the world wide web.

  • Chat room - A chat room is a web page that is used for strangers to talk, usually about a specific topic.

  • Homepage - A homepage, also known as a landing page, welcome page, or front page is the main page of a website.

  • Hyperlink - A hyperlink, also known as a web link, or simply a link, is an icon, graphic, photo, or text, that links to another page or file. 

  • File Sharing - File sharing is the ability of multiple users to access a file. 

  • Instant Messaging - Instant messaging, also known as IM is a direct form of messaging between one person to another over a network, or the internet.

  • Keyword - A keyword is a word or group of words that are used to help a person, and a search engine, find a page or information.

  • Search Engine - A search engine is a program or software that is used to find information on a database, or the world wide web.

  • Social Media - Social media is a social network where people make profiles and share information and images. 

  • Universal Resource Locator (URL) - A universal resource locator, or URL, is the address of a webpage or file on the internet.

  • Website - A website, or site, is a group of web pages that are related to a homepage.

  • The World Wide Web - The world wide web, also known as the web, or www, is all of the pages and websites you can see on your computer.

Internet safety terms.

  • Antivirus Software - Antivirus software, also known as an antivirus program, protects your computer or network against computer viruses, or malware.

  • Cookie - A cookie is a small text file that is stored on your computer from a website. Websites use cookies to track data and recognize preferences.

  • Cyberbullying - Cyberbullying, or cyberstalking is a form of online harassment. This may include posting hurtful or inappropriate things about another person, or sending unwanted emails or instant messages.

  • Cybercrime - Cybercrime is the stealing, corrupting, or viewing of other people’s personal or private information or data.

  • Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity is the protective measures and practices designed to protect networks, devices, programs, and data from attack by cybercriminals. Professionals who have studied cybersecurity and information security help organizations keep sensitive data safe.

  • Digital Citizenship - Digital citizens are people who use the internet and other digital technology responsibly in the online community.

  • Electronic Footprint - A digital footprint is the communications and actions of a person on the internet.

  • Firewall - A firewall is a software program or hardware device that filters data entering and leaving a computer, device, or network. The filter attempts to block or restrict unauthorized access by programs or cybercriminals.

  • Malware - Malware is malicious software that is designed to make unwanted changes to settings or software, to cause errors in software or on devices, or to spy on personal information.

  • Phishing - Cybercriminals use phishing scams by creating false web pages or emails that are designed to look trustworthy to get personal information from people.

  • Spam - Spam is an internet term used to describe junk email, bulk email, pop-ups, or communication that is unasked for. Spam is typically seen as a potential scam.

  • Spyware - Spyware is a term that is used to describe software that is to secretly gather information about a user’s activity.

  • Virus - A virus is malware. It is a computer program that is designed by a cybercriminal to steal information, modify or damage data, or send or display false messages.

Child and parent playing on computer

Tools and resources for kids.

As the world continues to evolve more deeply into the daily use of technology and computers, it is important to support the development of STEM programs and education to ensure students don’t get left in the gap of the digital divide. Access to technology, and understanding tech concepts is important to educational success, and can provide opportunities to seek out further computer science education and the development of a competent and successful workforce and community. There are a variety of online or digital resources and tools — sometimes offered for free — for parents, teachers, and students to gain a better understanding of tech concepts, or to build computer skills.

Computer educational apps for kids.

The following applications teach computer and technology skills and education.

  • Codemoji - Codemoji offers a computer science curriculum for 1st-8th grade students to learn the basics of web development and coding. There is a free trial period, and costs range for parents from $5-$7 a month, and $30, or custom prices for classrooms and educators.

  • Kodable - Kodable is for K-5 students, and teaches kids coding at home or in a school setting. Kodable offers a free seven-day trial, and a $6.99 monthly fee billed monthly, or an annual yearly fee that equates to $4.99 a month.

  • Minecraft: Education Edition - Minecraft: Education Edition offers a variety of education and immersive learning for STEM programs. There are free trial logins, and the education edition is available for $5 per user per year.

  • PC Building Simulator - PC building Simulator teaches how to build and upgrade a PC, as well as how to diagnose and repair one. Prices range from $4.99 to $16.66.

  • Typesy - Typesy teaches fast, correct, and efficient typing for ages seven and up, for home and school. Typsy for individuals has a seven day free trial with $5 a month for up to 5 individual users. Homeschooling accounts range in price from $67- $197 per year. School accounts range from $97 a year per classroom and up, per size of the school.

Baby playing on computer

Kids internet safety pages.

Online safety is an important topic to speak with kids and students about. There are also a variety of applications and resources to encourage online safety for kids.

  • Common Sense Media - Common Sense Media offers reviews and age-appropriate ratings for movies and TV shows, books, as well as games and apps. They also offer games and services for teaching digital citizenship and online privacy. 

  • Federal Trade Commission: Protecting Kids Online - The FTC offers resources communicating with kids on a variety of subjects including cyberbullying, computer security, mobile phones, and other online socializing behaviors.

  • Internet Safety 101- Internet Safety 101 is an online resource that offers education and empowerment for parents and kids for cyber safety and preventing internet-enabled exploitation of children.

  • KidsHealth: Internet Safety - Kids Health offers resources for kids, teens, parents, and educators for general safety and health information as well as health, safety, and boundaries for online environments.

  • Wired: The A-B-C’s of Keeping Your Kids Safe Online - This article offers advice to parents on keeping kids safe online, teaching digital citizenship, and how to communicate with kids about digital issues.

STEM kids resources.

The following pages offer resources and online games and activities that advocate and empower STEM education and learning.

  • Code.org - Code.org offers coding courses and projects at no cost for grades k-12 and beyond.

  • Computer Science Education Week: Hour of Code Activities - Computer Science Education Week offers a variety of games at age-appropriate levels that teach coding, computer science, and STEM foundations.

  • Exploratorium - The Exploratorium offers a diversity of STEM blogs, videos, websites, and apps, as well as the ability to search and browse by subject. 

  • NASA Kids’ Club & Space Place - Nasa Kids’ Club offers games, photos, topics, articles, and activities for kids to interact with science and space concepts. 

  • National Geographic Kids - National Geographic Kids hosts games, videos, articles and photos, that discuss the natural sciences, science experiments, animals and biology.

  • STEM Works Activities - STEM Works Activities approaches a variety of STEM subjects and provides articles, activities, and discusses cool jobs associated with the variety of subjects they cover, as well as the people who work them, to get kids inspired and engaged. 

Whether you’re an aspiring teacher or IT professional, it’s important to understand the computer terms and the tools and resources available to help bring more people into the digital age. As technology continues to evolve, there will be a greater need for more IT professionals who know how to utilize technology well. Teachers are vital in helping prepare young students for these future careers.

IT professionals are also vital in helping educate youth about their work, and encouraging others to learn more about this exciting field. As they work to further their education and skills, they are examples for others as well.

If you’re interested in furthering your education in the realm of IT, consider attending WGU.

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