There’s a wealth of information online that can be helpful to families of injured, ill or wounded service members. People involved in your service member’s care are likely to often refer you to information on the Internet. If you don’t have a great deal of experience on the Internet, here are some basics to help you find what you’re looking for.
How to find a website when you know the Web address
You may want to look up a "Web address" (also called a "URL") that someone has given you or that you have read about. For example, someone may suggest that you look at a website called www.fisherhouse.org. (This is the web address for a program that provides housing near military medical centers for family members of injured service members.)
Here's how to find a website using the web address:
- Click on the picture or icon that lets you access the Internet. It will probably have the word "Internet" on it. It might say "Explorer," "Firefox," "Navigator" or "Safari." This will open a software browser, which lets you look for things on the Internet.
- Now you should see a narrow empty box, probably near the top of the screen. This is the "search box." In the search box, type the Web address that you have.
- Click on the word "go" or on the arrow next to the address box.
- The website's home page should appear on the screen. Click on different pieces of information on the home page to get even more information.
How to search for information without a Web address
You may not have a certain Web address to help you look up information on the Internet. That’s okay. You can do an Internet search that will find websites with information about a subject you want to know about.
For example, you may want to research organizations that have information about living with a spinal cord injury. Here's a way to do a basic search:
- Go on the computer and click on the picture or “icon” that lets you enter the Internet. It will probably have the word “Internet” on it. (See #1 above.)
- Choose a search engine. A search engine is a software program that searches the web to find sites that contain the search term that you type into the search box. Some well-known search engines are Google, Bing and Yahoo. To access and use these search engines, you type in the Web address. (Web addresses for these sites would be www.google.com/, www.bing.com/ or www.yahoo.com/.) A long narrow search box will appear.
- Type a search term into the search box. For this search, a good search term might simply be "spinal cord injury."
- Click on the word "search" next to or under the search box. A list of websites will appear on the screen.
- Click on a website that looks useful - for example, the search term "spinal cord injury" produces a list that includes the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center. Click on that link.
- Read the website by clicking on information that looks useful. If a site contains a box that says "resources," be sure to click on it. If a site contains a box that says "links" be sure to click on it, too. Links are connections to other websites that can be useful.
If a search produces too many websites that aren't really related to what you're looking for, narrow your search. For example, if you typed in the search term "child care," you'd get thousands of websites from all over the world. If you narrow the search by adding more specific terms - for example, "child care San Diego"- your results should more closely match what you're looking for. These additional pointers should also help you hone your search skills:
- You don't have to use proper capitalization in your search term.
- You don't have to use common words such as "and" and "the."
- If your search isn't turning up helpful information, go to the search engine's "advanced search" page, which will show you how to narrow your search.
- When you find helpful sites, "bookmark" them so you can find them again easily.
- Know if a website is a commercial or noncommercial site. The owners of a commercial website may be trying to sell services or items to people who visit the site.
- You can tell something about a site by the last letters in the web address:
- .com usually means the site is commercial
- .org means a nonprofit organization
- .edu means an educational institution
- .mil means a military site
- .gov means a government site