FAMILY DIGITAL WELLNESS GUIDE

Glossary

There are a lot of words and slang in the digital world. You can learn more about some of them here. If you’re looking for a word and don’t see it, please let us know at dwl@childrens.harvard.edu.

A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z

A

Active screen use – Interaction with screen-based media that requires physical or cognitive engagement

Ads – Images or videos designed to sell a product that often appear on television, across social media, and before online videos begin to play.

Advergames – Advergames are video games developed by or with a corporation or organization, designed to promote and advertise a product, service, or agenda.

ADHD – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder where an individual experiences higher levels of hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors.

Aggression – Angry, hostile, or possibly violent behavior.

Algorithm – The way a computer program has been designed to process how someone uses the Internet or an app, and use that information to customize what that user sees displayed. For example, if a user frequently visits a specific person’s social media account, posts from that account will appear before other, less frequently visited accounts.

AMA – Abbreviation for “ask me anything,” often in the title of a social media-based conversation where readers ask a respondent questions in real time.

Analytics – Data collected by companies to measure different aspects of the use of their product (for example, how long someone views an image, how many times an image has been liked, or how many times a link has been opened).

Anxiety – A heightened feeling of stress or worry.

App – Short for “application,” a program downloaded to a phone, tablet, or computer.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Computer programs that are designed to perform tasks that are usually performed by humans.

Augmented Reality (AR) – A technology that allows users to overlay interactive digital features onto the real world, typically using a smartphone.

Avatar – A picture that is used to represent a user online. It can be whatever the user chooses, from their own appearance to an imagined one (for example, a favorite cartoon character).

B

Background television/media – The experience of having television, online videos, music, or video games playing while performing other activities.

Bae – Slang term for one’s significant other

Binge watch – The act of watching multiple episodes of a television show in a row.

Binge eating – Eating unusually large amounts of food in one sitting; feeling a lack of control over the amount of food you eat.

Bio – Short for “biography,” which is a short description of who you are.

Bitmoji – A personalized emoji designed to look like a cartoon of the user, able to represent a variety of moods and expressions.

Blockchain – A digital ledger that is secured to nearly ensure that it cannot be manipulated or hacked. Used for the trading and tracking of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Blue light – The type of light that screen-based technologies like laptops, tablets, and smartphones give off. Looking at this kind of light can make someone feel more alert or in a heightened mood, and can also result in sleep disruption.

Body Dysmorphia – A disorder where a person focuses on one or more aspects of their body that they see as a flaw (often something that is not seen by others).

Body image – How a person sees their own body both in the mirror and in their mind.

Bot – An internet-based robot that is designed to appear human-like in its way of communicating and interacting online.

Bump – Typically used on social media comment feeds which sort comments from newest to oldest, a user may type this to move a comment or question up to the top of the list.

Brand/Branding – How something or someone identifies and chooses to represent themselves to the world. For an individual person, this can mean the type of content they share online or behaviors they engage in so that other people understand their values. For a business, this can mean the kinds of advertisements they create with the intention of attracting a certain type of customer.

C

CAPTCHA – A tool to help differentiate between humans and robots. It stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” and often comes in the form of a task to “retype these letters and numbers” or “select all of the images that have a stop sign in them”.

Catfishing – Using a fake identity or persona to befriend strangers online, often for romantic relationships.

Chatbot – Artificial Intelligence (AI) designed to carry on conversations with individuals in an almost human-like manner.

CIPA – The Children’s Internet Protection Act addresses concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful online content by requiring minimum internet access and monitoring policies of schools and libraries that receive certain federal communications services discounts. (Federal Communications Commission)

Circadian Rhythm – The body’s internal clock that helps us stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

Clickbait – A piece of Internet content that is created with the specific intention of getting users to click on its link, often through flashy or intriguing headlines.

Cognition – The brain’s process of taking in, understanding, and reflecting upon information.

Continuous scroll – A feature of certain apps where a user can continue scrolling without end.

Co-play/Co-op – Playing together as a team, either in person or in an online video game setting.

COPPA – The Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act is a federal law that places limits on the data and information website and application operators can collect on children under the age of 13. (Federal Trade Commission)

Co-viewing/Joint engagement – The act of watching or engaging with a digital application or other media with another person.

Critical thinking – Evaluating and analyzing a piece of information before making a judgment on its value or accuracy.

Cryptocurrency (Crypto) – Digital currency traded and invested online. Can be used directly for many purchases but can also be traded for more traditional assets. Common cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin.

Cyberbullying – The act of bullying in an online context. Often includes sending threatening messages, or sharing or posting negative, embarrassing, or other harmful information or images.

D

Data – Information that can be used to measure and infer different information.

Desensitization – Exposure to something to the point that it no longer elicits the same emotional response.

Depression – A mental health disorder that is recognized for ongoing feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in day-to-day .activities, and a sense of hopelessness.

Developmental readiness – A child’s mental, emotional, and intellectual readiness for a task or experience.

Developmentally optimal – Activities, conversations, and information that are at the right level to be understood by a child while contributing to their ongoing physical, social, mental, and academic growth, regardless of their biological age.

Digital – Using computerized technology.

Digital citizenship – The responsible, safe, and respectful use of the internet and technology.

Digital engagement – The process of interacting with and within the online and technological world.

Digital wellness – An intentional state of physical, mental, and social health that occurs with mindful engagement with the digital and natural environment.

Direct messaging (DM) – A way to privately communicate with one or more individuals within an otherwise social or public platform.

Disinformation – Content or statements that spread false or inaccurate information, with the deliberate intent to mislead or manipulate.

Doomscrolling – A practice on social media where the user continuously reads, or scrolls through, negative, depressing, or distressing stories.

Doxing/Doxxing – A form of harassment in which a person reveals private information (such as real name, family information, home address, phone number, or financial records) about another person on the internet, typically with malicious intent.

E

Emoji – Small characters like smiley faces, food items, animals, and other objects that are used within or in place of text. (Learn more at Emojipedia)

E-Books and E-Readers – Short for electronic book or reader, a technology that enables a person to read a published piece of writing through a digital format.

Esports – Short for electronic sports, this is a form of sporting competition using video games.

Executive Functioning – Mental skills including attention, organization, memory, and processing that impact how children learn and live.

Exergames – Video games that involve players having to physically move in ways that are as rigorous as traditional exercise.

F

Feed – A stream of information comprising posts, notifications, advertisements, and news on the homepage of a social media platform.

FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. (US Department of Education)

Filter – An overlay of color, saturation, or other modifications that change the appearance of an image (typically before it is posted on social media).

Facetime – The iPhone/Apple specific video-chat app, though the term is often used to refer to any type of video-chatting.

Finsta – Short for “fake Instagram,” but used to describe accounts on multiple social media services, this is an account that is typically reserved for one’s closest friends where a user shares more open thoughts and unedited or personal images.

Flip phone – A basic cell phone without internet access, called a “flip phone” because the cover flips open to reveal the screen and keypad.

Follower – Someone who has subscribed to see updates on a social media user’s posts.

FOMO – Internet abbreviation to describe a “fear of missing out”.

Friend – The act of inviting a person to join your social network. (e.g., “friend me so you can see my photos”)

G

Gamer – Someone who plays video games, computer games, and other interactive games, and engages in online gaming communities.

Ghost – To purposefully ignore someone, often used to describe someone ignoring repeated text messages.

GIF – Graphics Interchange Format, a short animation or video clip that is shareable on social media and text messages, often used to emphasize an emotion or expression.

GUI – A graphical user interface (GUI) is a layer of technology with which a user engages that allows them to visually interact through things like icons, menus, and other graphics.

H

Handle – Designated by the @ symbol, this is one’s username or alias on social media sites.

Hashtag – The # symbol, which, when followed by a word or words, functions as a category name and allows social media users to sort and search for posts that share its categorization.

Hater – Slang for someone who shares hurtful and discouraging messages about another person.

I

IAT (Internet Addiction Test) – A test that asks questions about how one uses the Internet, and determines if they have a healthy or unhealthy relationship with using the Internet.

Icon – A graphic symbol for an app, function, or software.

Influencer – A popular individual with a heavy social media presence who is frequently sponsored by companies to feature their products.

Imaginary play – The act of play where settings, characters, and/or objects are created in one’s mind and engaged with as if they were real.

IRL – Internet lingo for “in real life” which is used to denote something happening in the natural world.

J

K

L

LGBTQIA – Stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and agender” an inclusive way of identifying the community of individuals whose sexual identity is not heterosexual (between a man and a woman).

Like – A system of offering approval of a post on social media, providing a “thumbs up” or a “heart”.

Lit – Cool or awesome

Livestreaming – Broadcasting a situation in real-time over a social media platform. (see also: Video game livestreaming)

Lurker/Lurking – Someone who is present on a message board, forum, or webpage but does not participate; the act of watching others participate in an activity without participating yourself.

M

Machine learning – A branch of artificial intelligence that uses statistical techniques or algorithms to enable a computer to become better at what it does.

Mainstream – Popular, widely-known, trendy.

Media – The collective term for different types of mass communication including television, radio, and internet.

Media literacy – The ability to consume, engage with, and create media critically.

Media use agreement – A document that families create together to describe how and when they will use devices and media, how they will hold one another accountable to these expectations, and what will happen when someone breaks the agreement.

Meme – A humorous image or phrase that is circulated and/or referenced widely.

Metaverse – An immersive, persistent, interoperable virtual social space where users can interact with one another or with computers.

Misinformation – Content or statements that spread false or inaccurate information, with or without the intent to mislead.

Mindful media use – Regular reflection of how media use is making you feel about yourself or others, how often you are engaging with it, and how you could have a more healthy relationship with media.

Modeling – Instructing another person on how to behave by acting that way yourself.

Multitasking – Engaging in more than one activity at the same time.

N

Netiquette – The social rules and norms for proper behavior online.

Network – A group of individuals or groups that are connected.

NFT – Short for non-fungible token, this is a digital asset that is exchanged using blockchain technology.

N00b – Someone who is a beginner or doesn’t know what they’re doing.

NSFW – Internet lingo for “not safe for work,” applied to content that is considered inappropriate for viewing in a professional setting.

O

Obesity – A health disorder where an individual’s amount of body fat exceeds healthy body weight, which can lead to a number of other health issues.

Overshare – To tell too much about one’s life, typically over the Internet. (see also: TMI)

Deleted: Added:

P

Parental controls – Settings available in digital applications and many television streaming services that control the type of content a user can engage with.

Passive screen use – Watching or reading screen-based media that doesn’t require thinking or active engagement, such as scrolling through social media feeds or watching videos online. (see also: Receptive screen use)

PCIAT (Parent-Child Internet Addiction Test) – A test that asks parents questions about how their child uses the Internet, to determine if their child has a healthy or unhealthy relationship with using the Internet.

Photobomb – Typically, a person or animal who sneaks into a photo without the photographer (or subjects) realizing or intending to include them.

Podcasts – Radio-like programming that can be accessed through audio-streaming services, ranging from news reports to fictional storytelling.

Pornography – Sexually explicit photos or videos.

POS – Text slang used to indicate “parents over shoulder,” ie: parents can see what we’re writing.

PPRA – The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment seeks to protect students’ privacy by requiring parental notice and consent/opt-out for surveys of students that address protected topics including political affiliations; mental health; sexual behavior; illegal or demeaning behavior; religious beliefs; and income. (US Department of Education)

Pre-verbal – The stage before a child has acquired the ability to speak understandable language; children at this stage communicate using gestures and sounds.

Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU) – Overuse of digital media that interferes with a balanced, healthy life. Often referred to as “gaming disorder,” “internet addiction,” or “media addiction”.

Profile – A self-created overview of who a person is, what they are interested in, and any other details they might want to share in an online setting.

Prosocial skills – Behaviors and instincts that are helpful in developing and sustaining positive relationships with others.

Pwned – Video game slang, it is an intentional misspelling of the word “owned,” that indicates that a user was defeated or humiliated.

Q

R

Rating – A score given to something to describe its quality or its age-appropriateness.

React – Selecting an emoji to describe the emotional response you have to someone’s post; typically used to refer to Facebook actions.

Receptive screen use – Watching or reading screen-based media that doesn’t require thinking or active engagement, such as scrolling through social media feeds or watching videos online. (see also: Passive screen use)

Repost – The act of sharing someone else’s social media content on your own platform.

Research – The system of investigating/exploring different questions or subject areas to better understand them and draw conclusions.

Retweet – The act of sharing someone else’s Tweet to your own social media platform; specific to Twitter.

Revenge porn – A form of sexual abuse that involves the digital distribution of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos of a person without their consent, often as retaliation or blackmail by a current or former partner (Love is Respect)

S

Sadness – A feeling where one is unhappy or low; can be caused by a number of experiences internally or externally.

Screenshot – Taking an image or photograph of one’s own phone or computer screen.

Self-Esteem – How an individual sees themselves in terms of social acceptance, worth, and likeability.

Selfie – A photo an individual takes of themselves.

Sexting – The exchanging of sexually explicit content via text message.

Sharing – Posting an item to social media for your network to see.

Sharenting – The use of social media to post thoughts or images about one’s children or one’s experience of parenting.

Smartphone – A cellphone that is also a handheld computer with internet access. Smartphones often include voice recorders, cameras, video recorders, and music players.

Snap – An individual brief video, photo, or message posted to the social media platform Snapchat that will disappear after a period of 24 hours.

Social distancing – The act of being six feet apart from another person in a social setting to minimize the risk of spreading an illness.

Social emotional learning – The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions (Credit: CASEL)

Social media – Internet-based space that enables the building and transmission of ideas and information through virtual, often public, networks. Commonly used social media applications include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Reddit, and Weibo.

Social play – Peer-based collaborative play interactions, usually between young children.

Spam – Unnecessarily email, direct, or text messages; typically advertisements or potentially harmful scams.

Squad – One’s close friend group.

Stan – An obsessive fan, typically of a celebrity or band.

Status – A statement a user writes and shares on their social media pages to describe their current thoughts, emotions, actions, and/or location.

Story – A collection of brief videos, photos, or messages posted to a social media platform that will disappear after a period of 24 hours; commonly used on Instagram and Facebook

Streaming – The delivering and receiving of media content using the internet.

Substance use – Participating in the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, or medications (outside their prescribed use).

Suicidal ideation – Thoughts of taking one’s own life.

Sus – Slang term short for “suspicious”.

Super Peer – Media that strongly influences the thoughts and actions of children and teens may be considered a super peer.

Swatting – The (typically criminal) act of making a prank emergency call in an attempt to bring police officers to someone’s house.

T

Tablet – A mobile device that functions similarly to a laptop, but is smaller, more portable, and has a touch screen.

Tag – A way to identify a person in a photo posted online that, when clicked, will link to that user’s social media page.

Targeting – Focusing attention onto a specific person or item.

Technoference – The disruption of interpersonal interactions caused by the presence of technological devices.

Text – A typed message sent from an individual to one or more recipients via cell phone.

Thinspiration – Media that encourage an individual to maintain or pursue a lower, typically unhealthy, body weight.

Timeline – A list of everything a user has shared, reacted to, or received on Facebook.

TL;DR – Internet lingo for “too long; didn’t read”.

TMI – Slang for “too much information,” to tell too much about one’s life, typically over the Internet. (see also: Overshare)

Trending – The most popular topics or key words on a given website or social media platform.

Troll – An internet user who makes bullying, controversial, or inflammatory comments or posts in order to manipulate others’ emotional responses.

Tween – Slang term for a preteen child, usually 10-12 years of age.

Tweet – A post on the social media platform Twitter with a maximum of 280 characters.

Twitch – A livestreaming platform where users can watch livestreams or recorded videos of video gameplay.

U

V

Vaping – The act of smoking an e-cigarette, called vaping due to the vapor produced by an oil cartridge in the device.

Video chat – Talking to another person using live video; often used interchangeably with Facetime.

Video game – A game played by controlling digital images produced by a computer program on a TV, mobile device, or other screen.

Video game livestreaming – When video game players broadcast their gameplay to a public audience using online services such as Twitch or YouTube.

Viral – Rapidly widespread, shared over multiple media platforms.

Virtual Reality (VR) – A setting or environment that is completely computer-generated but has the feeling of being real. A user engaging with virtual reality can use special sensors and goggles to interact with the virtual environment.

W

WeChat – Downloadable messaging software that enables social and one-to-one communication.

WhatsApp – Similar to text messaging, this app allows users to share messages, images, and short videos directly with one another over the internet.

X

XP – Shorthand for “Experience Points” which are collected as a player and their character progresses through a game, most often seen in role-playing games.

Y

YouTube – A video streaming platform where users can watch and post videos.

Z

Zoom – A video-conferencing platform used for virtual meetings, classes, and social gatherings.

Zoombomb – A disruption caused by an unexpected participant into a video conference call; the act of interrupting a video conference call you were not invited to.