The Internet has become a very important part of our lives. Adults use it at work, as a social connection, and as a research tool. Children spend a tremendous amount of time on the Internet, both at school and at home. The Internet provides a window on the world and opens up the ability to research any topic.

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How to Find Information on the Internet

  • Use Online Magazines and Journals

Reliable articles should have a bibliography with sources that are scholarly and non-Internet. An article should also have a reputable author who provides evidence, statistics, and data as a foundation for statements and opinions.

  • Use News Sources

Television stations, newspapers and other news sources all have websites. They can provide up-to-date information and breaking news. The immediacy of their information is impressive. However, make sure you pay attention to the dates of the information to avoid citing out-of-date information and statistics. It is a good idea to use these sites as a foundation for research on other Internet sites.

  • Use Dictionaries, Thesauri, and Encyclopedias

These reference materials are very useful. For example, I used the Internet to find out what URL stands for when writing this article. The Internet has many dictionaries that are specific to a particular area or category. There are dictionaries for business terms, sports specific words, and medical terminology. Well-known dictionaries and encyclopedias such as Merriam-Webster and Encyclopedia Britannica have sites that provide information. If you type in “Internet Encyclopedia of” followed by just about any subject, you will find information on a specific topic.

Searching on the Internet

Use a search engine when accessing websites. If you type “search engine” into the search bar, a list will appear from which you can choose. Then, simply type in the words describing the information for which you are searching and a list of available sites will come up. Read the list paying attention to the titles and descriptions. Click on the website you wish to access. Some things to remember when you are searching are:

  • If you place a minus sign (-) prior to a word, that word will be omitted. For example, “recipe-gluten” will give you gluten free recipes.
  • You can use quotation marks, to view consecutive words of a phrase, such as “internet searching”
  • A plus sign (+) prior to a word causes each word to be searched for separately. For example, +internet+search+URL.”
  • You can search by asking a short question.

 

Verifying the Reliability of Information

It can be frustrating using the Internet, because it is sometimes difficult to verify the reliability and accuracy of the information. There are several ways to overcome this difficulty.

Note Author and Sources Used

Most of the time, Internet information that does not provide a source and name of the author is not reliable. You should look for verifiable information on the author such as a web page, publication credits, and employment by a reputable firm, university, or research institute.

Note the URL

The URL (uniform resource locator) is the Internet address. The ending indicates some information that is very helpful. If the end is .edu, the address is most likely for an educational institution. If it ends in .gov, it is a government web site. These sites are excellent for statistics and government reports and documents. A URL ending of .org usually indicates a non-profit organization. These can contain some political bias, but are still a good source of information.

Security and Safety

Make sure your children know how to use the Internet. Caution them about going to sites that do not have a clearly understandable URL and description. You can also set up parental controls by doing the following:

  • Go to Internet Explorer on your computer and click on ‘Tools’ on the toolbar in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Click on “Internet options”
  • Select “Content” in at the top of the box that opens.
  • Click on “Family Safety” and follow the directions to select the areas you wish to control.

You will be prompted to set a password. When you do so, only you will be able to access and modify the parental controls.

Even if there are no children in your household, setting parental controls can help you avoid sites that you may find offensive.

The Internet is truly a remarkable resource. Many of us use it every day and would find our lives much more difficult without its virtually instant answers. The Internet can be educational; you just need to know where to look.

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