Make the most of the internet

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Getting online can save you time and money – not to mention provide a wealth of information at your fingertips.

You can use the internet to:

  • Keep in touch with friends and family
  • Save money with your shopping
  • Save time by managing your utilities and banking online
  • Search for information on absolutely anything

We have produced a guide with the support of BT‚ one of the world’s leading providers of communication products and services.

Getting started

Before you use the internet‚ there are several items you will need.

A personal computer (PC) with mouse and keyboard

Some people like desktop computers while others prefer more portable computers that you can carry around and use on your lap (known as laptops).

A mouse is a hand-sized control that allows you to direct an arrow‚ or cursor‚ around your computer screen and to click on things on the screen and is how you navigate your way around the internet. They come in different shapes and sizes and are comfortable even if you have limited dexterity.

Desktop computers usually have keyboard and mouse as separate items but on a laptop they are built in and the mouse is usually a track pad. The computer‚ keyboard‚ mouse are all hardware.

Internet connection

There are two ways to connect to the internet‚ dial-up and broadband.

Dial-up internet connection
With a dial-up connection the computer is plugged into your phone line and dials a telephone number. It keeps your telephone line busy and is the slowest form of connection.

Broadband internet connection
A broadband connection is fast and allows you to use your phone and be on the internet at the same time. You can shop around for cheap ‘bundles’ of services, ie all your television‚ internet and phone services from one provider.

There are different types of broadband connection to the internet:

  • ADSL broadband uses a standard phone line and is supplied via BT. You plug in a box (known as a modem) and your phone line can be used simultaneously for the internet and for phone calls
  • Broadband is also available from cable and satellite TV companies
  • Wireless broadband (known as WiFi) involves connecting wirelessly to your home broadband so that you can use the internet in any room in your home. Increasingly‚ you can also connect wirelessly in public areas such as airports and coffee shops – these are called WiFi hotspots. opens link in new window opens link in new window BT Openzone provides wireless internet access throughout the UK and Ireland
  • Mobile broadband – you can access the internet from anywhere with mobile phone coverage using a small device called a dongle provided by the major mobile phone networks. You pay for them in the same way as you pay for your phone.

Protection from viruses

When using the internet‚ you must ensure the security of your personal details and the safety of your computer from viruses – computer programs on the internet designed to access your computer without your consent.

There are several free anti-virus programs that allow only safe content from the internet onto your computer.

Taking your first steps

Once you are connected‚ try the opens link in new window opens link in new window BBC Computer Tutor – a useful online guide to using a keyboard‚ mouse and computer screen.

  • Computer training courses are provided by some older people's groups in Northern Ireland
  • Public libraries all offer computer and internet access through the People’s Network‚ with library staff on hand to provide support
  • opens link in new window opens link in new window AbilityNet provides information‚ resources and training on adapted technologies (including screen-readers‚ voice recognition software and large-button keyboards) to support older people with physical and mobility difficulties to use computers and the internet. Call freephone 0800 269 545
  • Good bookshops also sell helpful guidebooks to computing and internet for beginners.

Your Age NI

Set your location to see what Age NI offers in your local area.

Age NI Advice:
0808 808 7575
Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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