Tips & tricks: Top 10 terms for talking tech like your teen

  • TECH
  • Monday, 23 Sep 2013

BE TECH SAVVY: Do you know the tech terms to keep up with your kids? - AFP

For the non tech-savvy parents, it sometimes can be a chore talking to kids when they decide to drop some 'techy' terms in the conversation. Here are some basic terms, so you can keep up with them.

The basics: software and hardware.

We know you’ve probably heard these two before, but it never hurts to refresh the basics.


What is it?

Software refers to the computer programs or operating information that your computer, tablet or smartphone use to do things. There are many varieties of software, for example iTunes is a piece of music software that runs on your computer and Gmail is type of email software that is accessed through a browser.

Why do you need to know about this?

Your computer, phone and tablet need software to do anything. Without software to power them they’re just physical objects.


What is it?

Hardware is the real-world physical object, for example your phone or computer, that you use to access the Internet, email your friends and even just check the weather.

Why do you need to know about this?

Because you don’t want to tell your teen you’ve discovered some “great new hardware which will help you edit photos, or save interesting news articles that you’ve found to read later”. Your newfound credibility will be gone in a flash.

Next Steps: Browsing and getting ‘app’-happy.

Ok, so you’re comfortable with these basics, let’s move onto some slightly more sophisticated things.


What is it?

A browser is your gateway to the web. It is a piece of software that allows you to visit webpages and use web applications. There are many different types of browsers you can choose to use — for example Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera are all different types of browsers. Watch a short video here.

Why do you need to know about this?

The browser that use shapes your experience of the internet and your online security. It’s kind of like the car you drive, or the lense through which you experience the internet. Modern browsers provide you wil fast and secure browsing. Chrome is recognised as the fastest and most secure browser and also features some pretty sophisticated technology that allows you to do cool things like visit the circus or take an interactive view of our solar system.


What is it?

Software needs to be regularly updated to ensure its running as quickly and safely as possible and many programs require people to do it themselves which takes time and effort. Auto-updating is when software updates itself — like a house that both cleans and locks itself. Modern browsers like Chrome for example update themselves quietly in the background without you even knowing, so you get the most secure browser without clicking a finger.

Why do you need to know about this?

One of the best ways to protect against threats online is to have an up-to-date browser. According to a recent study, nearly one in four people are using an outdated web browser and the average home user upgrades their browser to the latest version one month after it is released. By choosing to use a browser like Chrome, which releases a new update every six weeks, you minimise your risks online and save time.

Applications or Apps

What are they?

An application, often referred to as an ‘app’, is type of software. People usually talk about apps in relation to software on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. As well as mobile apps, you can also have web apps which is a type of software that you can access and use while online, via your browser.

Why do you need to know about this?

Apps are fun and useful and as smartphone and tablets become increasingly popular,and computing moves to the cloud, they’re going to be fundamental way you experience the internet. Popular apps include photo sharing app Instagram, note taker and web clipper Evernote and productivity app Any.DO.

Question time: Where do you put all this stuff?

So you’re using all these great applications and creating cool things, but how do you keep track of it all and where does it go?


What is it?

Like in the offline world, storage is the place where you keep all your digital information or data. Whether you’re creating documents, downloading music or saving your holiday happy snaps, all that information has got to go somewhere.

Why do you need to know about this?

There are a couple of different storage models. One which is becoming increasingly popular is to put all your stuff in the cloud, rather than saving it to you device like your computer.  Google Drive is a cloud based service that lets you put all your files, including documents, photos and videos in one place, so you can not only access them anywhere but also share them.

The cloud

“Cloud computing” simply means Internet-based computing. Basically, anything you do from your browser, for example using a web-based mail service like Gmail, streaming videos on YouTube, or sharing photos on Picasa. It also means that instead of storing your data on devices it’s stored in multiple, secure data centres around the world.

Why do you need to know about this?

As we live more of our lives online, we’re acquiring more digital stuff. By having all your documents, music, photos and videos in the cloud, you no longer have to worry about losing anything ever again. You stuff is always backed-up no matter what device you initially created it on. The cloud also enables real-time collaboration. For example you could bring with your friends together in a single document with Google Docs to plan a dinner party menu or invite list.

Now you’re talking: Extending your vocabulary to a stream of tech talk

Here are the final terms you’ll need to talk tech with your teen.


What are they?

Extensions are little programs that add extra features and functions to your browser. They can be handy shortcuts that allow you to do things you might want to do regularly, like translate entire webpages or save to Drive with just one click.

Why do you need to know about this?

As you spend most of your time in your browser, extensions save you time and clicks. They also men you can customize your browsing experience so it’s like your own online living room with everything in just the right place.


Streaming is a way of transferring audio or video data or information in a steady stream — like a river. Popular streaming sites include YouTube and Spotify.

Why do you need to know about this?

Streaming is a way you can listen to your favorite musicians, watch movie or the news and stay in touch with current events whenever, wherever and with whatever device you’d like to use.


Syncing is a way of getting your devices to talk to one another. It’s also a way of making sure that all your stuff is where it needs to be when you want it. For example Chrome’s sync features will make sure your apps, extensions and bookmarks aren’t just “stuck” on one computer but on whatever device you’re using.

Why do you need to know about this?

Recent research tells us that 90% of people now use their devices in a sequence. For example you might look up a recipe on your work desktop, check in on cooking tips on your smartphone on the train on the way home, and using a tablet in the kitchen. Chrome’s sync function makes it easier to move through this multi screen world so that information travels as you do making it fast and simple to move through your multi-screen world.

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