The internet (also known as ‘the web’) helps people to connect with each other right across the globe. It does so through a series of connections, wired and wireless.

The web doesn’t just connect you to people though, it also connects you to information. The web is a huge source of information. It can also enable you to achieve a lot of your day-to-day goals. From shopping online to finding a job or video calling with friends and family.

In this lesson, we will help you learn about the different ways you can connect to the web. So, you will be able to connect, open a browser and search for information. We will also cover public connections and how to stay safe.


  • Learn to connect to the web by using mobile data.
  • Learn to connect to the web by using wired and wireless.
  • Be able to open an internet browser and make a search.
  • Know the difference between public and private connections.
  • Know the risks of browsing in public.

Read time

8 mins

Chapter 1


Read time

3 mins

What is broadband?

If we think of the internet as a web of devices and information, broadband is our way to connect to it. It can be wireless, but most often it comes into our homes through wires or cables. These wires attach to a router. This is a device that you keep in your home that allows you to connect to the web.


What is Wi-Fi

We know now that Broadband brings internet into your home and attaches to your router. Wi-Fi is a way to connect your device to this. Most devices and routers will now allow you to connect wirelessly. But, to connect to it, you may need to first connect using something called a network cable between your router and your device.


Choosing a broadband provider

If you’re new to shopping for broadband, it can feel quite hard. If you contact a provider directly, you might not get the best deal. Using a website called a comparison site can help.

These sites compare lots of providers and show you many options all at once. This means you can compare their main benefits. One might be more expensive; another might have a slower speed. Either way, it can be helpful in getting to know what kinds of things you should be looking for.

Setting up your router

Once you have chosen your broadband provider and received your router, you will need to set it up. Some providers will do this for you. Others will send you the router with instructions. It will also depend on if it’s the first time that internet is being set up in your home.

Once it is set up, you can turn it on and begin your connection.


Connect to your Wi-Fi

On your device you will need to find your Wi-Fi settings. If you don't know how to find your settings please take a look at our lessons 'Using your mobile and tablet' or 'Using your laptop/desktop' first. Please choose the lesson that is right for your device.

In your Wi-Fi settings you can 'Connect to a network'. Here you will be able to search for and see any available Wi-Fi networks in your area. If you have set your router up correctly, you should see the name of your network here. The name of your network is usually on the router or in the box it came in. Once you've entered this, it will ask you for a password. Again, you will find this either on the router or in the box it came in.


If you need extra help:

  1. Check your device's instructions
  2. Speak to a trustworthy friend or family member
  3. Call our free Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333
  4. Go to AbilityNet who have section of their website where you can get help for your specific needs, set up and device

Chapter 2


Read time

1 min

What is mobile data?

In the last chapter we found out that you need to be near to a router to get Wi-Fi access. Mobile data is something you can access anywhere. This is because the companies who provide mobile data have built many towers across the UK which is where your data comes from. These companies aim to make sure you can get data in most places across the UK unless they’re very remote.

To use the data, you pay the company for a set amount. Quite often this will be part of your mobile phone package. So, for example, you can buy a phone for an amount each month with free texts, free calls and a certain amount of data. Data is usually more expensive than Wi-Fi, so this is why people will try to be careful about using data when they don't need to.


How to connect

Unlike Wi-Fi, mobile data is most often on by default. This means you will most likely not have to do anything more than buy your mobile phone and package. You can turn your access to data on and off though. You might do this because you have almost used your monthly amount. To turn it off, you need to go to your device’s settings and find ‘mobile data’. If you have a touchscreen device, you can often swipe down from the top of the screen and access this quicker.

When you go into your home or somewhere you have already connected to the Wi-Fi, most devices will automatically use the Wi-Fi instead of your data. So, you don’t have to worry about changing between them when you leave and enter the house.

Chapter 3


Read time

2 mins

Using public Wi-Fi

So far, we’ve mainly spoken about using Wi-Fi in the home and data outside the home. There may be times that you might want to use Wi-Fi outside your home. This may be because you want to save your data, or it might be because you can’t access data where you are.

Your option when this happens is ‘public Wi-Fi’. These are Wi-Fi connections provided by other people or businesses. So, for example, your local coffee shop might offer you the option to connect to their Wi-Fi. Or your local trains might offer you a Wi-Fi service.


Is it safe to use them?

It may seem like a really good offer at first. You are, after all, getting Wi-Fi for free. You do need to be careful though.

To use the Wi-Fi for free, some places will ask you to fill out a form with your details. It can ask for things like your name, your email or phone number. If you don’t know the company well, you can’t really ensure that you are safe to give them these details. Without knowing if they’re a company you can trust, you can’t make sure they have the right security in place to keep your details safe.

The biggest risk comes in just connecting to the network. There are a few ways people can take advantage of you using public Wi-Fi to access your device and information. By connecting to a Wi-Fi network, you’re agreeing to create a connection between your device, the router and sometimes – the other devices using it. This means people can use this as a way into your device. People can also set up ‘fake’ free Wi-Fi, pretending to be the airport Wi-Fi or your coffee shop in order to get you to connect.

If they manage to get into your device they can potentially steal your details. This is especially risky if you are using the Wi-Fi to access important websites like your online banking.

Should I avoid them?

With all these risks, it can be easy to say that public Wi-Fi is something to avoid. It is something you need to decide for yourself. Some Wi-Fi connections are safer than others, so you need to consider if and how you can protect yourself. There are three main things to keep in mind.

First, what data are they collecting? If there are collecting data you don't feel comfortable sharing, then do not connect.

Second, how are they protecting their Wi-Fi? Is it password connected? How easy is it for people to find out the password? Some hotels, for example, will change their Wi-Fi daily and provide it to their guests when they check-in. This is far more secure than an easy to guess password that is publicly displayed and never changed.

Finally, do you have security software installed? If you have a good security software installed it can reduce the risk of connecting. Some providers will have special protections in place for joining public Wi-Fi. So, you should think about this when choosing a provider and whether you're safe to connect to public Wi-Fi.

Chapter 4


Read time

2 mins

How do I use the internet

You should now have a good idea about how to access the internet. Remember, you can access it on Wi-Fi or data, from home or in public. What we haven't explained yet is how to actually use it.

The web can be used to find out information about many topics. It's like one big library that contains all the things ever put on it by anyone in the world.

To make the most of it, you need to learn to search it. We will cover this in detail in our lesson 'Finding information online', but let's touch on a few of the basics here.


What is a browser?

To use the internet, you would use a browser. Browsers work like a window to the internet. You can use it to connect to different websites where the information is held. Most devices will have a browser installed when you first turn them on. You can find it on your home screen, desktop or in your apps. In our 'Finding information online' lesson we will show you how to choose and download the right browser for you.

Once you open a browser, you can go to a website. To do this, you need to enter something called a 'web address' which, much like a home address, it points to  the location of where you are wanting to go to online.

You can also search for information without knowing the address of the site you're looking for. In this case you would enter what you're looking for into something called a 'search engine' to find what you need.


What is a search engine?

Search engines are just websites you can go to on your browser. They are tools used to narrow down the pages online to what you need. They do this based on the words or terms you type into them.

Want to know more?

It's okay if you still have lots of questions about this. If you want to know more, the best place to start is our lesson 'Finding information online'. If you feel you need more one to one support, you can also phone our free Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333.


Module complete!

Well done on completing this lesson! You should now know the basics of setting up your internet. We suggest you keep your learning going with our lesson 'Introduction to online safety'. As you start to go online, it will help you to make sure you know how to stay safe. So, you can begin to go online and search with more confidence.


Up next for you:

Next module: Introduction to online safety

Back to: Using your device

Scottish Widows Be Money Well is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Scottish Widows does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 31st Oct 2022.