Computer Terms for Children
Here you’ll find a categorized list of computer terms that are relevant to a child’s computer usage. Each list will attempt to present the simplest terms first, though none of them are by any means too difficult of a concept to introduce to a child. Parental or adult assistance with this list of computer terms for children is highly recommended.
This list contains all of the physical parts of a computer that can usually be seen, and are easy to point out.
Monitor – The computer screen that lets you view whatever the computer sends to it. Sometimes mistaken for the computer.
- Mouse – The small device you move around with your hand, usually to move the cursor around.
- Touch-pad – A small device usually found on laptops as a substitute for a mouse. Instead of moving a mouse around, you move your finger along a pad to manipulate the cursor.
- Keyboard – The device with the alphabet, numbers, and symbols on its many buttons. Normally used to type things that are displayed on the monitor.
- Speakers – Device that emits sounds sent from the computer. There are usually two speakers separate from the rest of the hardware, but there can be more or less, and they are sometimes built into the monitor.
- Computer – A machine able to, among many other things, calculate and output data. Computers are assembled from several other pieces of hardware.
- Printer – A device that outputs data to a physical sheet of paper. This is how you hand a typed essay to a professor.
- Scanner – A device that scans something (usually a flat piece of paper) and sends the image to the computer.
- Desktop – A computer not meant to be transported frequently. The computer and monitor are not connected.
- Laptop – A small computer built for portability. Usually contains a touch-pad, speakers, keyboard, monitor, and ports for additional hardware, and is fold-able.
Here’s some general vocabulary children are likely to come across.
- User – The person using the computer.
- Password – A typed phrase that acts as a "secret code" to protect data.
- Data – Anything stored by a computer. This can be from letters, to essays, to images, to video games.
- Cursor – Usually a small arrow on the screen that moves when you move the mouse. Used to make a selection.
- Caret or Insertion Point – A small blinking line that shows up when typing to show where whatever is typed will appear.
- Software – A program designed to do a variety of things. Microsoft Word is software; Internet Explorer is software; Halo 3 is software; Even Windows is software.
- Memory – Any data that your computer does not store on its hard drive is most likely in memory. This is your computer’s short-term memory. For short term memory to become long term memory, it must be stored in the hard drive.
- Internet – A large web of connected computers, allowing those connected to see what others provide to be seen. The internet can be very helpful to research, but also very dangerous to users who are not careful.
- Virus – Software written to do something bad to your computer. Usually encountered when not being careful surfing the internet.
Computer Terminology for Children – Verbs
This list contains verbs children are likely to come across in daily computer usage.
- Type – To press keys on the keyboard to input characters. This is used to write letters or essays, go to a certain webpage on the internet, write e-mails and chat, and much much more.
- Click – To press a button on the mouse indicating that you want to activate the cursor wherever it’s currently placed. Usually done to make a selection. You can left-click, right-click, or middle-click. Some mouses may have even more buttons.
- Log on – To identify yourself to software. When you "log on" to Windows, you let it know who you are so that it provides you with your files and not someone else’s.
- Log off – To let software know that you no longer wish for your personal data to be accessed.
- Open – To retrieve data from somewhere. Opening a file retrieves something from the hard drive. Opening a webpage retrieves a webpage from the server.
- Save – To store data somewhere, usually to the hard drive. Saving an essay allows one to open it later to continue working on it.
- Delete – To erase something. This can range from deleting a paragraph in an essay, to deleting an essay from your hard drive.
- Clipboard – Usually never seen. This is part of the memory where data is stored for "Cut", "Copy" and "Paste".
- Cut – To remove something to the clipboard to be placed somewhere else with "paste".
- Copy – To copy something to the clipboard to be placed somewhere else with "paste".
- Paste – To place whatever is stored on the clipboard in a designated place.
- Browse – To look over some sort of content. You would browse your hard drive to look for something specific. You would also use an internet browser to browse the internet for something.
- Download – To retrieve some sort of data from the internet. If there is a document you need off the internet, you will download it.
- Upload – To send data somewhere, usually on the internet. If you want others to see pictures, you would upload it where they can reach it.
Formatting is the manipulation of what you type in a word processor like Microsoft Word. This list contains terms children will want to be familiar with when writing.
- Bold – To make what is typed look heavier. This is used to make words stand out. Note that each of the keywords on this page are bolded.
- Italic – To give what you type a slight slant.
- Underline – To place an underline underneath what you type.
- Strikethrough – To place a line through your typing (like this). This type of formatting usually does not have a place in an essay.
- Font – To change the appearance of the words you type.
- Alignment – Determines whether what is typed shows up on the left, on the right, or in the middle.
Be sure to check out this article for educational games that may help with the application of computer terms for children.