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Parent's Guide to the Internet

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What Is the Information Superhighway?

When we talk about getting online, we mean being connected to the Internet--a giant network of computers that connects people and information all over the world. The Internet has a lot in common with other forms of communication:

  • Like the U.S. Postal Service, the Internet allows anyone who knows your Internet address to send you a letter. (It's called electronic mail, or e-mail for short).

  • Like the telephone, the Internet allows you to "chat" with other people by participating in online discussion groups.

  • Like the library, the Internet contains information on almost any topic you can imagine in many formats, including books, articles, videos, and music recordings.

  • Like the newspaper, the Internet can give you new information every day, including world news, business, sports, travel, entertainment, and ads.

In addition to words, one part of the Internet--the World Wide Web (often shortened to WWW or the Web)--is especially interesting to people because it includes pictures and sounds.

A Short History Lesson

The Internet began in the 1960s as a U.S. Department of Defense communication network. Soon after, university researchers and professors began to use it to communicate with others in their fields. Internet use really took off in the early 1990s with the arrival of the Web, which made it easier to find and view information online. Today, millions of people throughout the world are connected to the Internet. No one--no country, organization, or company--is in charge of the Internet; it's growing and being changed by its users every day.


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