Are you barely able to understand your tween or teen’s slang IRL (in real life), much less online? You’re not alone! A recent study revealed that many parents are painfully unaware of what their kids are talking about online, and monitoring kids’ Internet activity may be only part of the solution.
Should Parents Be Concerned About Online Lingo?
Teens have been making up their own language for decades, though, so should parents really be concerned? Actually, yes. Although the strange abbreviations and acronyms may sound innocent enough, not all of them are harmless. Consider, for instance, the acronym “LMIRL.” Parents who can’t decode its meaning may think nothing of it when it appears in their kids’ chat history. Unfortunately, ignoring it would be a big mistake. Why? LMIRL stands for “let’s meet in real life,” and is a signal that your tween or teen may have plans to meet up with a stranger she met online. Other acronyms that should send up red flags include:
- GNOC - Get Naked On Cam
- TDTM - Talk Dirty to Me
- ASL - Age, Sex, Location
- NIFOC - Naked In Front of Computer
Why Teens Use Internet Speak
Unfortunately, learning a long list of acronyms and their meanings won’t help you understand your kids’ Internet communication—at least not completely. Why? Because as soon as kids know that you’re on to them, they’ll come up with replacements to keep you in the dark. Online lingo has two purposes—convenience and deception. While some acronyms are created for the sole purpose of saving keystrokes, others are created to allow teens to secretly communicate with each other without parents being in on the conversation. For example, the acronym “POS” (Parents Over Shoulder) is commonly used to let friends know that now isn’t the best time to talk about certain subjects.
What Can Parents Do?
Becoming proficient in another language may not be the answer to decoding your child’s Internet speak, but that doesn’t mean you’re at a complete loss. Monitoring your child’s Internet use, especially his or social media and chat activity, can give you a lot of insight that you wouldn’t have otherwise. If you see strange acronyms or abbreviations, do a simple Google search to locate their meanings. Above all, make sure that you’re talking to your kid regularly about digital citizenship and safe Internet use.