Computer Terms for Children

, Staff Writer
Updated September 15, 2017
children using laptop computer terms
    children using laptop computer terms
    lewkmiller / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Do you need some computer terms for kids? Following are two lists of the terms children need to know about computers. The first list includes computer definitions for students related to working on a computer. The other provides terms for the physical parts of a computer.

Key Computer Terms for Children to Know

A glossary of basic computer terminology helps kids use computers and talk about using them.

  • backup - an extra copy of a file, document or all data stored on a computer
  • browser - a program you use to browse files; web browsers like Firefox, Chrome or Edge will browse internet files.
  • caret or insertion point - that small blinking line that shows you where your next typed letter or number will go
  • computer virus - software that was written to do bad stuff to your computer
  • cursor - a small arrow on the screen that moves when you move the mouse and is used to make a selection
  • data - any information stored by a computer; for example: files, emails, apps, video games, songs, and pictures
  • desktop - screen that appears if you are not browsing the Internet, reading a file or playing a game; your icons are on this screen
  • download - process where you copy something from another computer or the internet, and save it on your computer
  • drag and drop - when you click on something and hold the mouse button down, it moves the object you clicked on and leaves it where you let go of the button (it drags it and drops it)
  • ecommerce - shopping and buying things online
  • email - a way to send a message from one computer to another
  • FAQ - an abbreviation for frequently asked questions
  • graphic - a picture or an image
  • homepage - first page you see when you open your browser (You can make any page your homepage.)
  • icon - a small symbol or picture that represents a program or other things
  • internet - many computers connected like a web so you can see what other computer operators show you and you can show them things
  • log on - how you get access to a computer by typing in your username and password
  • malware - malicious code that cyber criminals launch to try to damage other people’s computers
  • memory - where a computer stores data; temporary memory, called random access memory and permanent memory, which is called read only memory (ROM)
  • password - a secret code to protect your data and can keep others from accessing your computer
  • phishing - an email scam that dishonest people use to try to get you to reveal your passwords or other information they could use to hack into your private information
  • right click - when you push on the right-hand button on a two-button mouse; it gives you a menu of options
  • screensaver - a picture that pops up when you are not using your computer
  • shortcut - an icon is a shortcut to a file or program.
  • social networking sites - websites that allow people to connect and communicate with other people; examples are: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat
  • software - all the instructions for the computer or a program designed to do different things; Microsoft Word and Windows 10 are examples of software programs
  • spam - computer abbreviation for "sending particularly annoying messages"; unwanted email.
  • taskbar - bar on your computer that shows what programs are open
  • URL - address of documents and resources on the internet
  • user - anyone using a computer
  • wallpaper - picture or design on your desktop for decoration
  • World Wide Web (www) - a group of internet servers linking computers around the world

Definitions for Physical Parts of a Computer

This list of computer terms for children covers the hardware, or physical parts, of computers.

  • computer - electronic machine that can store and process data; it has hardware, which is the machine itself, and software, which is a set of instructions
  • desktop - a full-size computer, with a central processing unit (CPU) connected to a monitor
  • external hard drive - a device that acts like a computer hard drive without being installed in the computer; plugs into a computer via a port and you can copy files to it
  • keyboard - where all the letters, numbers and other buttons are located; when you type on it, the symbols appear on the monitor
  • laptop - small portable computer
  • microphone - allows you to talk to others through your computer, assuming you are connected to them via a communication app
  • modem - a device that allows a computer to connect to the intranet
  • monitor - screen that shows you what you are doing; a viewer that displays what the computer sends to it
  • mouse - a little device you move with your hand, which then moves the cursor on the screen
  • peripheral - an accessory that you use with your computer; not part of the computer itself, but it connects to the computer via a cable or wireless access; for example: printers and scanners
  • printer - device that prints out data sent from the computer onto paper
  • router - networking that allows computers to send and receive data via networks
  • scanner - device that scans something that is flat and sends the image to the computer
  • speakers - devices that the sounds come out of; they are sometimes built into the monitor
  • touchpad - an area on a laptop that substitutes for a mouse; you move your finger around on it to move the cursor
  • trackpad - another term for touchpad; part of a laptop that functions as a mouse would function; you control the cursor on the screen by moving your finger on the device

Mastering Computer Definitions for Students

Kids will use computers throughout their academic careers, so it’s never too early for children to start building their vocabulary of computer terminology. Knowing the right words to use to describe various computer components and discuss how to use computer equipment prepares kids to use information technology at home and at school. Practical vocabulary games for kids provide a great way for kids to continue strengthening their language and communication skills.