Are You Internet Savvy?

Being Internet savvy is quite a blanket statement. The Internet is such a vast domain that having a broad knowledge is an ongoing process for any enthusiast.

The first time I ever saw the Internet was at my brother’s house in the mid-90’s. I remember he showed me Yahoo and how you could search for people you know. It was a brief introduction, but I was completely intrigued.

The Boring Backstory (Skip This)

Being a teenager of limited means, I finally got online in 1997 via WebTV. WebTV became kind of awebtv laughable phenomenon as computer ownership became more widespread. It was really an innovator and ahead of its time given all the Internet-ready TV’s and TV compatible devices available today.

It was a limited experience without a computer, but my brain was a sponge.

Two years later, my parents (God bless them) shelled out nearly $2500 for my first desktop and I haven’t looked back.

So with nearly 13 years (now 21 years (and now almost 27 years)) online under my belt, I am attempting to write a comprehensive list of criteria that makes one “Internet Savvy” since I can’t really find one online.

What Does “Internet Savvy” Mean?

Let’s break it down. If you’re reading this, you know what the Internet is, but what does savvy mean? The beauty of the Internet is that as I’m writing, I can pull up a dictionary definition of any word.

savvy [sav-ee]

verb, -vied, -vy·ing, noun, adjective, -vi·er, -vi·est. Informal .

verb (used with object), verb (used without object)

  1. to know; understand.
  2. shrewdly informed; experienced and well-informed

A simple click, and boom, there’s also a thesaurus. You aren’t just limited to a plain ol’ dictionary or thesaurus either. You can get dictionaries in multiple languages as well as things like a rhyming dictionary if you dabble in poetry.

Are you experienced and well-informed in using the Internet? Take a look at some criteria.

Criteria for Being Internet Savvy

The Staples

  • Email – This is an Internet staple and usually where newbies begin. Back in the day, this was one of theare you internet savvy first things you could do with the Internet. 
  • Social MediaAs a web-savvy person, you should know first and foremost what Social Media is. Social Media envelopes all Social Networking sites and services. Your Social Media skills should well exceed writing a Facebook status or Tweet. You should know what Social Bookmarking is. You should also know how to recognize when a website is intended for Social Media and when it’s not. Who doesn’t know what social media is these days? It’s nearly come full circle. We are to the point where people are abandoning social media OGs like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) because they just can’t stand the noise or politics or censorship any longer. Don’t get me wrong, there are still millions of people using these platforms and they’re not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. These days, social media is all about business and figuring out how to utilize the platforms effectively to promote your particular brand of magic. It’s still the popularity contest it always was, but truly savvy users know which platforms to focus on for business and how to build a following to that end. Most platforms are pay to play these days and if you are using them for business, you’ll need a marketing budget to stand out in the crowd.
  • Browsers – Another staple of Internet knowledge is the browser. You can’t get on the Internet without one. As an Internet Savvy person, your knowledge should exceed merely double-clicking the blue “e”. The blue “e” retired after a long and lustrous career as the worst browser known to man only to be replaced by Edge. The majority uses Chrome these days. I can’t believe Firefox has less of a user base than Edge. That’s a mystery. Besides using your browser to surf the ‘net, you should also know the features of your browser. You should know how to clear your cache, cookies, history, view page source code, etc. You should understand the convenience of tabbed browsing.
  • Search Engines – Being Internet Savvy also means that you can use a search engine effectively. You should be able to find answers to questions of all types on any subject. You should understand that it’s possible to filter and refine your searches. For example, using Google, you can define nearly any word by simply typing define: and then the word into the Search box. To truly rule search, though, familiarize yourself with search operators and become the master of information! I believe search engines are going to be given a run for their money by AI which is a newcomer to the Internet.

Intermediate OG Knowledge – Pre 2010s

  • Telephony – Did you know you can make free phone calls using the Internet? I thought you might.
  • Forums – Message boards have been around since the inception of the Internet. These boards were vast social networks long before the term Social Media arrived on the scene. Forums aren’t too complicated, but they vary from place to place. You should know how to post, where to find the rules, how to use BBCode, and what the term “PM” means.
  • Instant Messaging – Along with forums, lots of people use Instant Messaging to chat with friends, family, potential love interests, and business associates. Like Forums, Instant Messaging is an important enough part of the Internet past that modern Social Media sites like Facebook and MySpace have included these features. Instant Messaging has given us the emoticon and terms like LOL.
  • Blogs – The Blogging Boom began in 2004. The number of blogs have doubled every 5 to 7 months since. There are now more than 53 million blogs. This number is long since moot. As of this writing, finding an accurate stat on the number of blogs is a crazy endeavor. The site, tumblr, has more than 300 million blogs by itself.
  • Being Internet Savvy means that you know what a blog is, what blog means, and you have knowledge of a few different blogging platforms such as Blogger and WordPress.
  • Domains – At its most basic, a domain is the address you type into your browser’s Address Bar to visit a specific website such as or
  • ViralGoing viral is an Internet term that can apply to any type of content on the web such as pictures, videos, articles, etc. Many Internet connoisseurs try to create viral content over and over. Being Internet savvy means you understand “viral” as a term used in marketing, blogging, writing, and videos. 
  • Scams – Can you recognize the scams? If you can, odds are that you have avoided the Nigerian email scams, the UK Lottery, or a scammy offer on Craigslist.
  • RSS Feeds – RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it is truly simple. It’s slowly being replaced by APIs which is unfortunate because RSS could be used by the average Internet user without having to any coding knowledge. Most blogs still have an RSS feed and there are still a few feed reading services around. This used to be hands-down the best way to keep up with and read news. Many websites displayed a link to the feed prominently, so users could just click to add it to their feed reader. It’s not completely dead, but it’s certainly less popular than it was.While Google killed their Google Reader app in 2013, it’s still remembered. More recently, they have added the functionality back to Chrome on mobile, but you have to jump through a few hoops to enable it. It’s still encouraging news!

If you’d like to see what the 90s Internet was like, there’s always the Wayback Machine where you can view archived pages from as far back as 1996. There are also a few sites still online from that time. The top example that comes to mind is a morbid one.

The Heaven’s Gate cult was a group who believed the Hale-Bopp comet was their ride to Nirvana, and they offed themselves in a group suicide in 1997. They were web developers and their website is still online as it was then – 

Advanced Modern Internet Knowledge – Intermediate to Advanced

This is a completely new section to this article. Naturally, there have been some major advances since this was originally posted online 5 years ago. Everything is completely different now. I’ve left my old info in this article as a testament to how much and how quickly things change. 

  • Mobile web – Accessing the web via a mobile device surpassed Desktop PC use in 2015. That means more people are using their phones to access the web than they are computers.
  • Responsive Design – Given the increased emphasis of the mobile user to the online landscape, having a responsive website, or one that is mobile-friendly, is now pretty much a requirement if you want to rank in Google. These two items are now the norm. You’d be hard-pressed to find a website that isn’t responsive these days. 
  • Cyrptocurrency – Have you heard of Bitcoin? Released in 2008, Bitcoin is a virtual Cryptocurrency Bitcoincurrency that is encrypted and built on blockchain technology. As the cryptocurrency world moves forward, it will become more mainstream. There are also new currencies being created all the time. In addition to Bitcoin, you may have have heard of Ehereum, Dogecoin, Dash, or Litecoin to name just a few.I’ve dabbled a little bit in Crypto, but that’s about it. It’s been drowned out by the AI revolution that is currently happening right now.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI isn’t new, but more advanced implementations are now readily available to the public. The most popular is ChatGPT, a large language model capable of creating all sort of text content on a near-human level. Image-related technologies are also leading the charge, and MidJourney is currently the talk of the town. MidJourney is able to create photo-realistic images and all sorts of digital art with text prompts. Many other offerings have blasted onto the scene in the last year, and are contending with these technologies for the top spot. In addition, there are many applications have been built on top of these technologies that are able to do all sort of things. It truly is a revolution and I’d the biggest thing to come to the Internet since it began.There’s one problem, these models are built on the intellectual property of real people and so they also face backlash from hard-working creators who feel their influence has been stolen. The legal ramifications are surfacing, and the fallout could be massive.
  • Reddit – Reddit is by no means new. It was created in 2005. Originally, it fit in the social bookmarking genre of websites, but it is so much more than that. They tout themselves as the front page of the Internet, and well, that’s legit. However, I’m including it in this list because it’s not for everyone and can be a little confusing to newbies.
  • Making Money Online – The Internet is your oyster. This topic has been a broad one since the Internet’s inception, but there is so much information on how to make money online that it can be daunting to find your niche in the big picture. With the current state of world economy, folks are turning to the Internet more than ever to supplement or even replace their income from traditional jobs.
  • TOR and the Deep Web – There’s a whole side of the Internet most people know nothing about. This is referred to as the Deep Web or Darknet. You have to have a special browser to even access it. This is where I must caution you. The Deep Web has a nefarious reputation. Supposedly, you can buy drugs, firearms, and even people in the “hidden” marketplaces. I’ve seen these places, but would never attempt a transaction. If you’re curious, YouTube has tons of videos on what it’s like on the Deep Web and what you can expect to see.
  • YouTube – Speaking of YouTube…it’s not new either. It was launched in 2006 as the site where you could “Broadcast Yourself”. It’s been a phenomenon ever since. If you’re on the Internet, you’ve watched YouTube videos. It’s a staple these days like email was way back when. Odds are, you’ve probably tried your hand at video making or at least set up a channel just to dabble and see what the big deal is.Many millionaires have been made from YouTube. Average creators like you and me have gone on to find they have a flair for creating video content. If you can get 500 subscribers and 3000 watch hours(updated from 1000 subs and 4000 watch hours in 2023), you can apply for the YouTube Partner Program and get your piece of the advertising revenue pie.YouTube is rivaled only by TikTok and is working to combat them with Shorts. A short-form video format. If you get 3 million views on a Short in 90 days, you can also apply for the YPP.
  • The Internet of Things – You might be surprised by how many things connect to the Internet these days: door locks, thermostats, and even refrigerators. It’s crazy! I’ll just stick to my plain ol’ metal keys, thanks.
  • Steemit – Steemit is a blockchain based social network. I’m a relative new-comer. It’s like if married Reddit. Steemit is their lovechild. The main draw with Steemit is that content creators there are rewarded in a cyptocurrency called Steem. Through an exchange process, you can convert Steem to USD or the money of your country. I’ve read people who are actually making a living doing so. If you create or curate content, it’s worth your while to check it out, but you’ll have to be Internet savvy and jump through a few hoops to register. I was biased here and it turns out that Steemit lost steam. Pun intended.
  • VPNs – This stands for Virtual Private Network and is a service that encrypts your data allows you to browse the web privately. It masks your IP address sidesteps limitations and firewalls on the Internet. For example, if you log into Netflix in America, and what you’re looking for isn’t available, but you know it is in the UK, you can use a UK IP address and access what you want to see.

programmingHonorable Mention

To be truly Internet savvy, it’s always good to know at least one programming language.

I think in the future, coding will be taught in schools and will become a part of literacy much like reading and writing. Knowing how to code can allow you to accomplish truly great things on the Internet. It’s really the only way to do new and innovative things when you think about it.

Who Cares?

Well, really, just geeks care.

This post is more of a challenge to the casual Internet user. There is so much more to the Internet than you can possibly imagine.

Owning a piece of the World Wide Web can be like owning a costly piece of real estate without a major monetary investment. It’s possible to make millions if you know what you are doing…just off the sale of one domain.

The Internet isn’t going anywhere.

As an enthusiast, I honestly feel that it’s worth my time to learn and know all I can about it. You may soon find that your employer cares, your church needs a website, your kid’s report card is only available online, and you get a huge discount if you buy your next big whatever using your Internet skills.

Be savvy.

This article originally appeared on my website ProWebWriter(dot)com in 2012. I updated it for 2017 to appear on StackingBenjis(dot)com. I think I’m finally settled here. Maintaining a post like this in the fast-moving space that is the Internet is harder than it looks.

Old Fact Box

New Fact Box

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