What is the Internet?

After completing this section you should be able to:

  • give a brief description of what the Internet is, and explain the term World Wide Web
  • list the requirements for a connection to the Internet
  • list typical customer services provided by an Internet Service Provider
  • explain the meaning of the term protocols in relation to the Internet
  • describe how the World Wide Web is used
  • explain what a web site is
  • explain in detail how to use a search engine to locate information

The Internet is really a world-wide area network of wide area networks – the biggest network in the world. Some of the computers on the Internet are small PCs, while others are huge supercomputers. Because the data held on any of these computers can be accessed by any other computer, the Internet can offer a vast amount of information. Data can also be passed around the world very rapidly. When people talk about the Internet, they often mean the World Wide Web.

This is the fastest growing part of the Internet and it takes the form of pages where graphics, sound, video and animation are used with text to present information on every topic.

The pages on the World Wide Web are organised into sites and the mix of media used in a site is called hypertext. Hypertext links are built into the World Wide Web, and these allow the user to move around by clicking on words or graphics on the screen. The user interface that is thus provided by the World Wide Web is both attractive and easy to use.


  • Easy communication with other people
  • Valuable learning resource because Internet skills will be needed for jobs in the future
  • Enables more people to work from home
  • A vast amount of information can be accessed
  • Up-to-date information can be accessed on-line without the need to await publication
  • Publishing documents on the Internet saves paper
  • A valuable resource for companies to advertise and conduct business


  • Much of the information isn’t checked and may be incorrect or irrelevant
  • A large amount of undesirable material, such as pornography, is readily available
  • Messages sent across the Internet can be easily intercepted and are open to abuse by others
  • Large telephone bills can easily be run up
  • Too much time spent on the Internet could result in a lack of face-to-face interaction with others and a loss of social skills
  • Going on-line runs the risk of hackers or viruses being able to damage your computer
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