Internet Basics: What Can You Do Online?

Lesson 2: What Can You Do Online?



There's almost no limit to what you can do online. The Internet makes it possible to quickly find information, communicate with people around the world, manage your finances, shop from home, listen to music, watch videos, and much, much more. Let's take a look at some of the ways the Internet is most commonly used today.

Finding information online

With billions of websites online today, there is a lot of information on the Internet. Search engines make this information easier to find. All you have to do is type one or more keywords, and the search engine will look for relevant websites.

For example, let's say you're looking for a new pair of shoes. You could use a search engine to learn about different types of shoes, get directions to a nearby shoe store, or even find out where to buy them online!

searching the web

There are many different search engines you can use, but some of the most popular include Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.


Short for electronic mail, email is a way to send and receive messages across the Internet. Almost everyone who uses the Internet has their own email account, usually called an email address. This is because you'll need an email address to do just about anything online, from online banking to creating a Facebook account.

Social networking

Social networking websites are another way to connect and share with your family and friends online. Rather than sharing with just a few people over email, social networks make it easier to connect and share with many people at the same time. Facebook is the world's largest social networking site, with more than 1 billion users worldwide.

Chat and instant messaging

Chat and instant messaging (IM) are short messages sent and read in real time, allowing you to converse more quickly and easily than email. These are generally used when both (or all) people are online, so your message can be read immediately. By comparison, emails won't be seen until recipients check their inboxes.

Screenshot of chat

Examples of instant messaging applications include Yahoo Messenger and Google Hangouts. Some sites, like Gmail and Facebook, even allow you to chat within your web browser.

Online media

There are many sites that allow you to watch videos and listen to music. For example, you can watch millions of videos on YouTube or listen to Internet radio on Pandora. Other services, like Netflix and Hulu, allow you to watch movies and TV shows. And if have a set-top streaming box, you can even watch them directly on your television instead of a computer screen.

streaming TV

Everyday tasks

You can also use the Internet to complete many everyday tasks and errands. For example, you can manage your bank account, pay your bills, and shop for just about anything. The main advantage here is convenience. Rather than going from place to place, you can do all of these tasks at home!

online banking illustration

And a whole lot more!

Remember, these are just a few of the things you'll be able to do online. Keep working through this tutorial to learn more about connecting to the Internet and using the Web!