Search site

Useful Online Tips

Find out how to be online with some valuable advice, and boost your confidence.

If you're not sure about some of the terms used, check out BT's very helpful 'Get IT Together' jargon buster to understand the meanings.

1. Getting started

Getting online does not have to be expensive. All you need is a device (a laptop, tablet or even a mobile phone) with internet access or a connection to Wi-Fi.

For guidance on which device is right for you:

Once you have a device, the easiest way to connect to the internet is through broadband for a fixed monthly rate. There are many comparison websites that take the hard work out of researching the cheapest broadband deals for you. These comparison sites do not cover all broadband suppliers, so you may want to do some research of your own as well.

To compare broadband deals from among the main suppliers:

2. How to use your tablet device

Tablets (small, thin and wireless mobile computing devices) let you do many of the same things a computer can. They are most often used to browse the Internet, read e-mail and access social network sites.

They use a touchscreen as their primary input device instead of a keyboard or mouse, which you work by tapping and swiping with your fingers.

A tablet can have applications (Apps) installed onto them to perform a specific function. For example, the Safari app on the iPad is the browser that allows you to browse the internet.

Apple has designed this iPad User Guide, to help those new to the world of Apple's iDevices.

Samsung has created a User Guide for the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro, containing instructions and explanations on how to operate your device.

Amazon has its very own User Guide for the Kindle Fire, to help you start using your tablet.

3. How to use your computer/laptop

The BBC has created a guide to help those who have never used a computer or the internet before to understand and enjoy the benefits they offer.

The guide takes you step-by-step through the basics like using a mouse and a keyboard, through to searching the internet and sending emails.

4. How to use search engines effectively.

The internet is full of amazing resources and there is information on just about anything you need to know.

If you are unsure about the address of the website you wish to visit, you can use a search engine. Google and Bing are the most common search engines. Type your keywords into the search box - "How to download Spotify?" or "Go-Online events in Colchester". Click 'Google Search' and you are presented with a list of website pages that match your search. If it doesn't work the first time, try amending your search.

Have fun and explore the internet!

5. Set up an email account

Keep in contact with friends, family and others.

Setting up an email is easy - Three of the main web-based providers are GmailOutlook and Yahoo Mail.

Go to their websites and click "create new account/register". Create a memorable email address that you can use when applying for jobs or registering for social networks. The most common email addresses include your name ( The different websites will require you to create a password (keep it safe, make it memorable and do not share with others).

6. Use social networking to communicate

The internet is full of networking tools that let you communicate with family and friends.

If you have a webcam, download Skype to ring friends and family abroad over the internet using video, instant message through Facebook and share your daily thoughts on Twitter. Here you can search/follow all your favourite networks, such as Colchester Borough Council online.

7. Be cautious when using the internet

While Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer are the world's most popular internet browsers, they're not always 100% secure.

You might have heard of computer viruses. A computer virus is a programme designed to infect your computer and cause damage. If you are not sure about the content or legality of a website, then do not enter it and remember to download security updates for your device. They may be annoying but they are designed to protect you - technology is always changing and updating and so are the risks.

For more information visit Stay Safe Online.

8. Stay safe online!

Several websites have presented online safeguarding. Sky has an excellent website, including a parent's guide, to protect yourself and others in your household.

We hope these have been useful to you. If you have any questions, or would like some help with any of the above, sign-up to our Digital Skills for Life Course or pop along to one of our free Drop-In Sessions.