Wondering about a word you read or heard? Check out the list of media, health, and technology terms below and learn a new term today!

Glossary of Media Terms

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Ads – Images or videos designed to sell a product that appear on television, social media, or before online videos. Advertisements on social media are frequently targeted to a user’s interests and prior searches, so that the viewer is more likely to pay attention to the ad.

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,” first coined on the popular website, Reddit.

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, 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 function of smartphones and other technologies used primarily for gaming that allows users to view features of the game (characters, objects) as if they were appearing in the real world. This type of gaming was popularized by PokemonGo, where users could use their phones to “spot” Pokemon in their surroundings.

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).


Background television/media – The experience of having television, online videos, music, or video games playing while performing other activities. For example, having the TV on while eating dinner.

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.

Bitcoin – An online currency (or “cryptocurrency”) that is traded and invested in online, but can be traded for real cash or assets.

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

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 robot that is designed to appear human-like in its way of communicating and interacting online.

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.


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.”

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

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 (for example: “You Won’t BELIEVE What This Celebrity Looks Like Now!”).

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

Continuous Scroll – A feature of certain social media apps (like Instagram and Pinterest) 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.

Co-viewing/Joint Engagement – The act of watching or engaging with a medium together (for example, a parent and child watching a tv show together and talking about what they see), known to mitigate negative aspects of media consumption.

Critical Thinking – Evaluating and analyzing a piece of information before making a judgement-call on its value or accuracy.

Cyberbullying – The act of bullying in an online context, including threatening messages, rude comments, sharing embarrassing information, and more.


Data – Items that are collected and 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.

Digital – Using computerized technology.

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 on a social media platform.

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


Emoji – Small characters like smiley faces, food items, animals, and other objects that are used to emphasize ideas or react to a statement.

E-Books and E-Readers – Short for electronic book (or electronic reader), a published piece of writing that is accessible through a digital format.

Esports – Video game competitions where professional video-gamers play against one another as individuals or on teams, and fans of the video game watch (in person or over the Internet).

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.


Facebook – A social media platform where users can post photos, videos, comments, opinions, news articles, and more, as well as communicate with fellow users publicly and privately.

Facebook – A social media platform where users can post photos, videos, comments, opinions, news articles, and more, as well as communicate with fellow users publicly and privately.

Feed – A stream of information comprised of followers’ posts, notifications, advertisements, and more on the homepage of a social media platform.

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

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

Follower – Someone (usually a friend or acquaintance) who is able to see all of a user’s posts, comment, and share content.

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

Friend – The act of inviting a person to join your social network, first coined on Facebook.


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

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


Hashtag – The # symbol, which when followed by a word or words allows social media users to see posts that share its categorization.


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 advertise 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.

Instagram – A social media platform where users can post images and short videos, share posts from public-facing profiles, comment, send private messages, and video chat.


Joint Engagement/Co-Viewing – The act of watching or engaging with a medium together (for example, a parent and child watching a tv show together and talking about what they see), known to mitigate negative aspects of media consumption.



LGBTQ+ – Initials that stand for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and more;” 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.”

Live-Stream – Broadcasting a situation in real-time over a social media platform.

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.


Mainstream – Popular, widely-known, trendy.

Media – The collective term for different types of mass communication (television, computers, phones, etc.).

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.

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/Parental Modeling – Showing a child how to behave by acting that way yourself (for example, not taking your phone out at the dinner table).

Multitasking – Doing more than one activity at the same time.


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

NSFW – Internet lingo for “Not Safe For Work,” applied to content that is considered inappropriate for viewing in any professional setting.


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 over the Internet.


Parental Controls – Setting options set up by adults to control the type of content a child can engage with on the Internet or television.

Parental Modeling/Modeling – Showing a child how to behave by acting that way yourself (for example, not taking your phone out at the dinner table).

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.

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

Pornography – Sexually explicit photos or videos available on the Internet.

Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU) – Problems like internet addiction, gaming disorder, and media addiction that come from compulsive overuse of media.

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 to developing and sustaining positive relationships with peers.



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

React – Showing emotion towards a post on Facebook based on the specific emoji that is chosen.

Reddit – An online forum where users can share and comment on posts in an ongoing stream of content.

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.


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

Screenshot – Taking an internal photograph of your screen to capture a fleeting moment.

Self-Esteem – How an individual sees themselves in terms of social acceptance, worth, and likeability (positively or negatively).

Selfie – A photo an individual takes of themselves, often posted to social media.

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

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

Sharenting – The overuse of social media to discuss personal things about your children and/or your experience as a parent, often to the embarrassment of your child.

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

Snapchat – A social media platform where users can share photos and short videos with other users and send private messages; well-known for its options for silly filters.

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)

Status – A statement a user writes and shares on their social media pages to describe a feeling, location, action/reaction, seek advice, and more.

Story – An individual or collection of brief videos, photos, or messages posted to a social media platform that will disappear after a period of 24 hours.

Streaming – The delivering and receiving of media content over a device.

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.

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

Swatting – The act of making a prank emergency call (such as calling 911) in an attempt to bring police officers (or the SWAT team) to someone’s house, typically while they are livestreaming. Swatting is generally a criminal offense and very dangerous.


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 person or item.

Technoference – (pronounced like Interference) 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 – Something that encourages an individual to pursue a lower body weight, often to the detriment of their health and connected to eating disorders.

Tik Tok – A video streaming platform where users can post and view short videos to be seen by other users.

Timeline – On Facebook, the list of everything you have ever posted and everything that has ever been shared directly with you.

Troll – An Internet user who makes bullying, controversial comments on online posts.

Tweet – A post on the social media platform Twitter with a maximum of 140 characters.



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

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 to “move” within the virtual environment.


We Chat – A messaging software downloadable to your phone or computer.



YouTube – A video streaming platform where users can watch and/or post videos for free.


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.