Internet Basics

If you've gotten this far and are reading this text, you're using the Internet. The Internet can be used for a number of different purposes--to get information, to give information, to buy things, to interact with other people.

But I have no idea what to do.

Where am I now?

Every site you visit on the Internet has an address. You view that Web site with what is called a browser. That's just a program on your computer that is for going on the Internet, instead of writing an essay in a word processor, for example. Right now, you're looking at a page on The Odyssey's Web site. You should see the address in the window above. It looks like this:


What does a Web address mean?

Here's how that address breaks down:

http: Hypertext Transfer Protocol, this just means that it is a page on the Internet.

www: World Wide Web

World Trek: This is the name of the website you're visiting, or something important about them. In this case you are on The Odyssey website, and it is all about a world trek.

org: This means The Odyssey is an organization that is not trying to make money. If it said "com", like "" that would mean it's a company trying to make money. If you visited "", you might be visiting the educational website of a "cool university." And "" would be a site related to the government, in this case of "the best country."


But how do I get the information I need?

Getting the information you need depends on your ability to understand what your browser can do. A lot of that will just come with practice, which you will hopefully get lots of.

Here are some tips on using your browser:

Back and Forward are useful features in any browser. Here's how they work. Let's say you go to CNN's website ( Then you click on an article that interests you. Back will take you "back" to the page you were just on, in this case CNN's main page. Okay, so you're back to If you click the Forward button, you'll go to your article again. If you keep clicking "Back" button again, you'll end up where you were before you even went to CNN.

The Bookmark, or Favorites feature allows your browser to record a site's address so you can return to it easily. You may be able to remember, but some addresses can get long! So when you find a page you like, you just click on "Bookmarks" and say "Add Bookmark", or click on "Favorites" and choose "Add to Favorites". Then any time you want to go to that website, click on "Bookmarks" or "Favorites and choose the website you want!


Here are some tips for when you're visiting Web sites:

Text that is underlined and blue usually links to another Web page. Often times your cursor will turn into a little hand when it is places over a link. You just click on this text and you'll go to the other website.

Web pages are often interactive. Sometimes you select options from a little menu that appears when you click on something. Sometimes you type in text in space provided called a "text field." Oftentimes you submit this information by clicking a button like the one below.

(This submission button is just a sample).

You can cut and paste text from the Web just like you do in word processing programs. Put your arrow on these words and click on the left button on the mouse. Now click the right button and choose "copy". Now if you want to send someone an email or type something in a word processor, you can click the right button again when you're writing, choose "copy," and the words you selected will appear! You can also copy web addresses that you see some where, and paste them into the space for web addresses above, hit "Enter", and you will go to that website.


Now that you've gotten through all of this, why don't you practice and explore some more on the following website:

Then here are some other Web sites for beginners

All about the Internet: A weekly column for beginners

The HelpWeb: A Guide to getting started on the Internet

Internet Tutorials

Learn the Net: Knowledge when you need it (in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and French)

Back to the Internet and Society page