Adults admit they’re baffled by digital jargon – do you know what smishing is?


DO you know your phishing from malware? One in six older adults admit they are completely ‘baffled’ by digital terms.

A study of 2,000 over-65s found the likes of hyperlinks, phishing and The Cloud are among the jargon which leave them scratching their heads.


Susie Dent has helped create the Digital Dictionary, filled with the most commonly misunderstood words onlineCredit: btseniorskills
Take the quiz to discover how well you know your tech jargon
Take the quiz to discover how well you know your tech jargonCredit: DRENCHDESIGN

Processor, malware and USB-C also made the top 20 list of confusing terms.

With cookies, IP addresses and smishing also featuring highly.

It also emerged 11 per cent think digital terms are so complicated that a foreign language would be easier to learn.

To help older people get a better understanding of online jargon, BT Group has partnered with AbilityNet and lexicographer Susie Dent, to create a Digital Dictionary consisting of the 21 most commonly misunderstood words used on the internet.

Susie 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, it’s great that this Digital Dictionary is a guide that simplifies the language.”

The survey also found the over-65s spend just five and a half hours a week online, with 78 per cent feeling left behind by their lack of knowledge.

Just over half (54 per cent) wish they were more knowledgeable when it comes to computing, but 17 per cent of these feel a lack of motivation.

Other issues include feeling there is simply too much to learn or needing someone to show them what to do.

But, 16 per cent worry others will see them as a burden if they ask for help understanding different areas of technology.

The main feeling for people who struggle with online jargon is frustration, though others feel silly, or stupid.

And while easy access to information (31 per cent), convenience (17 per cent) and keeping in touch with friends and family (15 per cent) were deemed good things about the online world, many had negative things to say.

A third (34 per cent) say their least-liked thing about being online is scams, with 14 per cent having privacy concerns.

One in 10 (10 per cent) also stress that not every piece of information they see online is credible, according to the figures.

Victoria Johnson, spokesperson for BT Group added: “As younger generations grow up with the internet, it gets even harder for older generations to understand ever-changing online jargon.

“But for anyone who isn’t a digital native and didn’t grow up with smartphones or super-fast broadband, it can feel like a whole new world to some.

“It’s a shame to see from the research that older adults feel they are a burden when asking for help navigating their way online.

“We want to create a more inclusive society by helping them make the most of life in the digital world.

“We hope that the variety of online guides will give people the confidence to start exploring the internet and will give them all the training and support needed to live life to the full in the digital age.”


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

It emerged 11 per cent think digital terms are so complicated that a foreign language would be easier to learn


It emerged 11 per cent think digital terms are so complicated that a foreign language would be easier to learnCredit: BTSENIORSKILLS

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