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Getting started on the internet

You might be surprised at how much you're able to do on the internet – from connecting with friends and family, carrying out tasks like shopping and banking, and accessing services such as your GP surgery. The internet can also be a great source of entertainment and education.

"It's finding a way in that suits you"

Dereck talks to us about the benefits of being online.


How do I set up an email account?

One of the first things you should do online is set up an email (electronic mail) account. It's a free and easy way to stay in touch with family and friends, and it's the main way that organisations and companies communicate with people.

You can set up an email account using one of the many popular email services, such as Google Mail (commonly known as Gmail), Outlook and Yahoo.

Click here to find out more about how to set up an email account

A-Z of online terms

From 'app' to 'hardware' to 'Youtube' – if you're coming across new words for the first time, our A-Z glossary of online terms can help.


How can I socialise online?

You can use messaging and video-calling apps and social media to socialise online, whether you want to stay in touch with friends and family or meet new people.

Some people use these apps to host activities such as exercise classes or book clubs.

Click on any of the links below to find out more:

Looking for a computer training class?

Many of our local ϲֱ쿪s provide computer and IT training, to make getting online straightforward and enjoyable.


How do I shop online?

You can use the internet to do your shopping from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Most major supermarkets and high street shops offer online shopping, as well as some smaller independent shops.

Goods can be delivered directly to your house (usually for a small delivery fee), or you can use a service called 'click and collect', where you order online but collect items in store, or even from a local convenience store or newsagents.

Click here to find out more about how to stay safe and secure when shopping online


How do I bank online?

Using online banking means you can keep control of your finances from home and whilst you're out and about, using your bank's website or app. With most banks, you can use online banking to check your balance any time of day or night, transfer money between your bank accounts, send money to people you know and more.

Click here to find out more about online banking


Can I manage my household bills online?

Most utility companies or services like council tax allow you to manage your accounts online. You'll need to set up an account via their website with a username and password, and you may need additional information like your account number.

You have a few different options for how you manage your household bills online: 

  • Paperless billing. This means you'll get your bills over email – not only does this save paper, but it also means you know where your bills are stored.
  • Direct debits. These give a company permission to take money from your account on a certain date, for example for paying your energy bills each month. The amount may differ each time, so companies need to tell you in advance how much they'll take and when. You might even get a discount by paying bills by direct debit. Click here to find out more about making payments online.

You can compare tariffs across a range of suppliers and find the best deal by using a price comparison website, such as Uswitch. .


How can I use the internet to arrange a GP visit or order prescriptions?

It's important that you're able to get help from a GP if you need it, but it's increasingly common to only be able to book GP appointments online. In some cases, your appointment itself may take place online, or over the phone. To find out more, visit your GP's website or use the NHS app to book appointments. 

Click here to find out more about how to download apps

If you have a repeat prescription, you can use apps or websites to order your repeats so you don't have to see your GP every time you need more medicine.

How the internet changed my life

John Davies talks about his initial aversion to getting online and how the internet has improved his life.


How do I watch TV or listen to the radio online?

You can watch TV on your computer, smartphone or tablet on the BBC (known as 'BBC iPlayer'), ITV (known as 'ITVX'), Channel 4 and Channel 5 websites.

You need a TV licence to watch any programme on BBC iPlayer.

However, for the other online TV services (including ITVX, Channel 4 and Channel 5), you only need to have a TV licence if you're watching programmes live. When you're watching programmes on 'catch up' (not live) on these other online TV services, you don't need a TV licence.

Apart from making sure you've paid for a valid TV licence where necessary, it's free to use all of these online TV services. 

Click here to find out more about TV licence concessions

There are many other online TV services available, including paid subscription services, such as Netflix and Now TV. 

YouTube is also a popular and free video-sharing website. Many different types of videos are uploaded to Youtube by individuals and organisations all the time – from documentaries to music videos to tutorials.

You can also listen to most radio shows online. Most radio stations have the option to listen live on their website or have an app that lets you listen from your mobile phone or tablet. For example, you can listen to all BBC radio stations and podcasts via the BBC Sounds App. 

Click here to find out more about how to download apps


The internet is full of resources to help keep you busy, learn new skills or practise your hobbies – whether you're a keen cook looking for recipe ideas, or you want some tips to help you look after your garden.

Cooking and baking

Cooking is a great way to pass the time – and it may help you eat well, too. There are plenty of online cooking and baking classes and tutorials available for free on the video-hosting website Youtube. .

There are a number of recipes online, including on the BBC Good Food website.  

You can also buy cookbooks online.

Gardening

If you have a garden, gardening is a great form of exercise and can boost your mood. There are hundreds of websites with gardening tips, and you can also buy gardening equipment online. 

Learning new skills

You could use the internet to explore an interest or learn a new skill. For example, u3a is specifically for older people, and has plenty of ideas as well as online resources and workshops that can help you keep learning online. Click here to find out more about u3a and later life learning.

Getting creative

You could your hand at painting, drawing or even knitting. This might seem daunting at first, especially if you're new to it, but you don’t have to be an expert to get arty. There are plenty of tutorials on sites like Youtube that can help you get started, and the website Pinterest has lots of ideas for inspiration. .

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local ϲֱ쿪s.

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Last updated: Jul 10 2023

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