Susie Dent launches dictionary to explain digital jargon including Smishing and Hyperlink

Does your Grandma or Grandpa know what a 'Browser' is? Is Spam something that's more likely to be found in a supermarket than received online?

Susie Dent standing by a wall holding up a Digital DictionaryA survey of 2,000 older people found that 38% of respondents said they experienced feelings of frustration when unable to understand digital terms.

Telecommunications company BT Group, which AbilityNet has been working with on a long-term partnership to bring digital skills to older people, has teamed up with lexicographer Susie Dent to create a Digital Dictionary (available via BT's website). 

The dictionary was created to help provide a better understanding of online jargon for older and digitally excluded people, after the new research, conducted by BT Group, found that one in six older people admit to feeling “baffled” by digital terms.

And 78% feel left behind by their lack of knowledge.

Furthermore, 16% of people worry that others will see them as a ‘burden’ if they ask for help and admit that family members have got irritated when having to explain digital information to them.

What's in the Digital Dictionary?

The Digital Dictionary identifies the most commonly misunderstood words used on the internet, and provides simple explanations.      

Susie Dent said: “Whilst so much of modern life seems easier online – whether that’s booking a doctor’s appointment, managing your finances, or doing the weekly shop – we’re forgetting one crucial thing: it’s only easier if you understand the language the web is built on.

So, I’ve teamed up with BT Group and AbilityNet to create this Digital Dictionary, a guide that simplifies the language of the internet, with the aim of helping us all make the most of life in an online world.”

Download the Digital Dictionary

Know your QR code from your USB

Sarah Brain, Free Services Manager at AbilityNet said: “For anyone who didn’t grow up with smartphones or super-fast broadband, being online can feel like a whole new world to some. Resources such as the Digital Dictionary are helping to address the need to support older generations towards understanding ever-changing online jargon."

The Dictionary explains words including hyperlink (which 41% of survey respondents misunderstood), QR code (24%) and 'The Cloud' (23%).

"Lack of understanding around these common online terms creates a significant issue," says Sarah.

Susie Dent sitting in living room reading 'Digital Dictionary'

BT Group's research of 2,000 older people revealed the top 30 online jargon they don’t understand:

  1. Smishing
  2. Vishing
  3. Hyperlink
  4. USB-C
  5. Ransomware
  6. URL
  7. Phishing
  8. QR code
  9. Cloud
  10. Malware
  11. IP address
  12. Cookies
  13. Streaming
  14. Tabs
  15. Processor
  16. Spam
  17. Antivirus
  18. Hardware
  19. Browser
  20. Upload
  21. USB
  22. Social media
  23. Emoji
  24. Webpage
  25. App
  26. Google
  27. Download
  28. Search Engine
  29. Software
  30. Smartphone

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Campaigns Director, BT Group said: “We hope that both the Digital Dictionary and variety of online guides on offer will give people the confidence to start exploring the internet and give them all the training and support needed to live life to the fullest in the digital age.”

Supporting older people boost their digital skills

AbilityNet's partnership with BT Group is helping to improve the digital skills of 4,000 older and digitally excluded people via the ‘Senior Skills’ programme in regions across the UK. Find out more and apply for a group session or one-to-one assistance: Digital Skills training for people over 65.

As part of the programme, BT Group has created a variety of online guides designed to improve people's confidence to start exploring the internet. You can access the guides at How to boost your online skills: learner factsheets.

Each guide comes with both a digital helper section (for the volunteer) and a learner section too, which can easily be downloaded and printed at home for convenience.     

AbilityNet Tech Volunteers have also been helping to share information about BT's Digital Voice.

Icon of a factsheetFree factsheets including Easy Read versions
Get straightforward advice about common online questions and issues including factsheets about voice recognition, Dyslexia and technology, Technology for Seniors, and more, plus Easy Read versions of our most popular factsheets.

Get your factsheets


How AbilityNet can help