Get Online: An Introduction to the Internet

Internet Access


It is easy to get online and there is a variety of help and support now available to you if you get stuck. Your library, council or Age UK often provide information about local training that is usually free.

You’ll need a device to physically use to connect such as a computer, laptop, tablet, phone or TV. This is what you use to look at the internet on. You’ll also need to set up your internet access. For this you can either use a data tariff on your mobile phone or broadband.


Using your phone to access the Internet can be expensive if you’re not completely sure of what you are doing. Using broadband supplied by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as BT, or whoever it is that supplies your home phone line is the typical choice and you can use it when you are at home from any device. Think of broadband as an extra phone line but just for your Internet.

When you pay for broadband it is billed in a similar way to your phone line and they will provide you with a free router which connects your device to the internet.

Your current landline phone or TV package supplier can provide a quote and you can usually expect to pay a set up fee and monthly charge. Prices vary enormously so shop around. It is probably best to start out on a cheap low usage package and upgrade if you need to. Don’t get talked into an expensive package as you may not need it.

The company will arrange a date with you for your broadband to be installed and get everything working for you. Make sure you ask them to check your computer or tablet connects OK before they leave. If you have a printer, you could ask them to check that for you too.

BROWSING: Looking things up

Your device will use software to access the internet called a browser such as Chrome, Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari or many others. This software keeps a record of sites you have visited and you can use it to set up favourites once you get the hang of it.

EMAIL: Send and receive messages

When you set up your Internet access you are normally given a free email address from whoever you chose as your provider (BT, Plusnet, Sky etc.). I would recommend you don’t use this but go to Gmail or Outlook instead because if you change your Internet supplier you will lose your email address and this is annoying. Go to and search Gmail. This will bring up easy instructions to having a free email address that is yours to keep forever.

SEARCHING or Googling?

The most popular way to search is using but there are many other “search engines” available such as Bing or Yahoo.

You type what you want to look at in the box and it will search the internet for you for those words. You can put in as much information as you want but the more detailed you are the better your results will be.
The first few result answers that appear when you search are adverts and will show a little square with the word “ad” next to them. These are paid for results from advertisers so you may want to skip over these as underneath these are the main results. You will usually get thousands of answers to your search and you simply click on one to look. You can use the arrows top left to go back to your search and select another option.


Search for anything. Just type in your favourite hobby, tv show, book, car, gardening, shopping, travel, knitting, favourite place, eating-out, dating, recipes, dog, cat, movie star, celebrity, city… and see what comes up,


Never share personal information with anyone online.

Only enter your credit card details into a site that you know. Or use our tips to safe shopping.

Don’t give your name, address and telephone out online to anyone you don’t know.

There are people who send malicious emails to put software on your computer that can harm it or try to get your private data. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, delete it.

Don’t click on any links in emails or open any attachments in emails unless you know the sender. Even then, read the email carefully, does it look like the sort of email your friend would send? If in doubt, don’t open.

Emails are often sent pretending to be from banks or government agencies. Ignore ALL emails from them. If it is genuine, your bank or the Tax man will write to you. Just delete them. If you are worried then call the organisation to check but don’t use the number shown on the email, look it up elsewhere.

Make sure you have virus software on your computer. Viruses come from emails and websites and can harm your computer or try to copy and take private information.There are lots of good free products available, we use Total 360 in the office.


  • Send and receive email.
  • Watch films, TV & videos.
  • Store your photographs and videos safely.
  • Join online and local clubs and groups.
  • Chat to friends & family and make new friends.
  • Have your food shopping delivered.
  • Read about anything that interests you.
  • Listen to music, the radio and audiobooks.
  • Manage prescriptions.
  • Play games, complete crosswords & do puzzles.
  • Use social media like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Research things such as a new washing machine or car.
  • Go shopping.
  • Learn a new hobby.
  • Compare insurers and energy suppliers.
  • Access your bank account and pay your bills.
  • Discover recipes, watch cookery lessons and find ingredients.
  • Learn a new language or take an online course.
  • Read a book, book theatre, cinema & concert tickets.
  • Plan and book holidays, days out or virtually travel the world.


Only use a credit card not a debit card. Credit cards usually have more protection. I have a card with a low limit that I use online, that way if someone gets hold of my card details they’ll be disappointed that there isn’t much to spend, they wont have access to my bank and I can just cancel that card if I think it is being used fraudulently.

Sites that use Paypal, Sage, World Pay or another third-party payment company can be safer as you are not giving a company you dont know your card details.

Look for a padlock symbol in the top left of the top bar, don’t shop from sites that don’t have this symbol.

Check the website name starts with https. This means they are secure, will have a padlock symbol and your personal information is better protected.

Never type in your card details without checking the above.

Stay safe with Paypal, you enter your card details once and it is stored securely. When you go shopping, Paypal authorises the purchase for you, so you don’t have to enter your card details into the site you are shopping from and Paypal don’t share it either. If something goes wrong, Paypal step in and resolve any issues and organise immediate refunds.

Be very cautious about buying health supplements online from a company you do not know. They may be making bogus claims and could be providing fake goods.

Read the small print, check you are not setting up repeated payments or agreeing to a second payment later.

Check the returns policy. Are they going to charge you if you want to return it or is it free?

If it seems to good to be true, it often is!

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