The internet (also known as ‘the web’) is a powerful tool. We use it to connect with others all over the world. It does this using wired and wireless connections.

But it doesn’t just connect you to people. With the web, you have access to all kinds of information. It can help you shop online, find a job, book appointments and make video calls to friends and family. 

In this lesson, we’ll show you how to connect to the web, open a browser and search for information. We’ll also look at public connections and how to stay safe.  


  • Know what Wi-Fi, broadband and routers are
  • Connect to the web with wired and wireless options
  • Connect to the web using mobile data
  • Open an internet browser and make a search
  • Know the difference between public and private Wi-Fi
  • Recognise the risks of browsing in public

Read time:

9 mins

Chapter 1

Connecting to broadband internet

Read time:

3 mins

What’s broadband?

If we think of the internet as a web of devices and information, broadband is how we connect to it. You can have wireless or wired broadband. Often, it comes into our homes through wires or cables, attached to a ‘modem’ or ‘hub’. This is a device you keep in your home that lets you connect to the web. 


What’s Wi-Fi?

So now we know that the modem or hub brings the internet into your home. The next step is to create your home Wi-Fi. This is how your devices can access the web. A ‘router’ does this. 

If you have a hub, this includes a router. If you have a modem, the router will be a separate unit.  

Most devices and routers let you connect wirelessly. When you connect for the first time, you may need to use a ‘network cable’. You might also need to use this if the connection is weak. It’s a physical cable that runs between your router and your device. 


This is how it works:


This brings the Internet to your home through wires or cables

Modem and router

These wires or cables plug into a modem or combined modem/router 

Your devices

The router creates your home Wi-Fi and lets your devices access it 

Finding a broadband provider

If you’re picking your broadband, it can be hard to know what to look for. How much should I pay? What speed do I need? Which provider is the most reliable?

This is where a comparison site can help. These websites compare many providers and show you different options all in one place. They make it easier to compare prices, speeds and reliability. You may also get a better deal if you use one of these sites.

Want to find out more about using comparison sites? See our lesson ‘Save money on services and utilities’. 


Setting up your router

Once you’ve picked your broadband provider, they’ll send you your router. Some providers will set this up for you. Others will send you the router with instructions. This might depend on whether internet is already set up in your home or not. Once it’s set up, you can turn it on and start your connection. 


Connecting your devices to Wi-Fi

You’ll need to find your Wi-Fi settings on your device. If you don’t know how to find these, see our lessons ‘Using your mobile phone and tablet’ or ‘Using your laptop and desktop’ first. Pick the lesson that’s right for your device.


How to connect to your network

Follow these steps to connect your device:

  1. Go to Wi-Fi settings – Here, you can select 'Connect to a network' 
  2. Search for networks – Search for and see available Wi-Fi networks in your area  
  3. Select your network – Your network name is on the router or in the box it came in  
  4. Enter your password – Again, you’ll find this on the router or in the box it came in  


Need more help?

  • Check your device’s instructions 
  • Speak to a friend or family member 
  • Call our free Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333 
  • Go to AbilityNet  

Chapter 2

Connecting to mobile data

Read time:

1 min

What’s mobile data?

In the last chapter, we found out you need to be near a router to get Wi-Fi access. Mobile data is something you can access almost anywhere.


The mobile network providers have built towers that you can connect to, all over the UK. They cover most places, except in very remote areas.

To use mobile data, you pay your provider a set amount every week or month. This may be part of your mobile phone package, or contract. This contract usually includes a phone, texts, calls and a certain amount of data. Data tends to be more expensive than Wi-Fi, so some people avoid using data when they don’t need to.


Using mobile data

Unlike Wi-Fi, mobile data is usually on by default. This means it’s ready when you buy a mobile phone package. You don’t need to do anything to start using it.

You can switch it on and off yourself, too. You might want to do this if you’re going abroad or running low on data.

Say you come home or go somewhere else where you’re already connected to the Wi-Fi. Most devices will automatically switch to Wi-Fi. This is handy, as it saves your data and it means you don’t need to remember to switch it yourself. 


To turn off mobile data:

Step 1

Go to device settings

Step 2

Find ‘mobile data’

Step 3

Tap or swipe the button

Top tip

Some touchscreen devices let you swipe down from the top of your screen or up from the bottom of your screen to turn ‘Mobile data’ on or off.

Chapter 3

Using public Wi-Fi safely

Read time:

2 mins

Why use public Wi-Fi?

So far, we’ve talked about using Wi-Fi in the home and data outside the home. But there may be times you want to use Wi-Fi outside your home too. Perhaps you want to save data. Maybe you can’t access data where you are. 

When this happens, your option is ‘public Wi-Fi’. These are Wi-Fi connections provided by other people or businesses like your local coffee shop or on the train. 

According to Forbes, these are the main reasons people use public Wi-Fi:


only use it when they can’t use their mobile data 


use it to make calls using an app


use it to cut down on their mobile data usage

Is it safe to use?

It may seem like a good idea, as you’re getting free Wi-Fi. But you need to be careful. To use the Wi-Fi for free, some places will ask you to fill out a form with your personal details. This might include your name, email or phone number. If you don’t know the company well, you can’t be sure they’ll keep your details safe. 

Just connecting to the network can have risks. Here’s how people can use public Wi-Fi to access your device and information:  

  1. You’re creating a connection between your device, the router and sometimes other devices using it. So people can use this as a way into your device  
  2. People can also set up ‘fake’ free Wi-Fi, where they pretend to be the airport Wi-Fi or your coffee shop Wi-Fi to get you to connect 

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

Free Wi-Fi does not mean safe Wi-Fi

Avoid using websites that ask you to enter or view personal information, like your bank details, when connected to public Wi-Fi.

Should I avoid them?

With all these risks, it might seem that public Wi-Fi is something to avoid. This is something you need to decide for yourself. Some Wi-Fi connections are safer than others. There’s also more to it than we’ve covered in this lesson. Want to know more about how you can protect yourself? See our lesson on ‘Using public Wi-Fi safely’.

Chapter 4

Opening an internet browser

Read time:

3 mins

How do I use the internet?

You should now have a good idea about how to access the internet – through Wi-Fi or data, from home or in public. Now it’s time to learn how to use it. 

You can use the web to find out information about so many topics. It’s like one huge library that has all the things ever put on it by anyone in the world. 

To make the most of it, you need to learn how to search it. We’re going to get you started here. If you’d like to learn more, see our lesson ‘Finding information online’.


What’s a browser?

To access the internet, you use a browser on your device. Browsers work like a window to the internet. You can use them to find information or carry out tasks. In our ‘Finding information online’ lesson, we show you how to find and download the right browser for you.

Pre-set browsers

Most devices have a browser on them when you first turn them on. For example, Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.

Find it on your device

You can find a browser on your home screen, desktop or in your apps.

Use it to visit a website

To do this, you need to enter something called a ‘web address’. Just like a normal address, this tells the browser where you want to go online.

Search for information

Don’t know the web address you’re looking for? You can search, using something called a ‘search engine’.

What’s a search engine?

Search engines are a type of website. You can use them to find what you need online, by entering a word or phrase into the search box. 

Let’s say you want to buy a new white t-shirt. You could enter ‘white t-shirt’ into the search engine. It would then come up with lots of websites that have these words in them. The more specific you can be, the better the search results. For example, ‘plain white t-shirt for men size XL’.


The search bar is usually at the top of your browser page

Test your knowledge

Answer this question by selecting one answer from the three options provided.

That's not quite right!

Remember, fraudsters can use public Wi-Fi to access your device and personal details.

That's right!

Fraudsters can use public Wi-Fi to get to your device and personal details, so be careful not to log into any of your accounts, especially your bank account.

Want to know more?

It’s OK 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 one-to-one support, you can also phone our free Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333. It’s open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm. 

The Helpline gives free one-to-one digital support to help you get online. You can use this service if you live in the UK or Channel Islands and you’re over 18 (or supervised by a parent or guardian if under 18).


Lesson 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’. It will help you stay safe and go online with more confidence. 


Up next for you:

Next lesson: Introduction to online safety
Back to: Get started online


Bank of Scotland Academy 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. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 8th November 2023.