How do kids write on social media?

Qustodio team

Qustodio team

Experts in digital safety

Tips to help your child stay safe during the back to school period

Each generation speaks and writes differently to the next: but no generation before has been so affected by technology and digital communication as the current Generation Z and Generation Alpha. With such rapid growth in technology, has the way kids write on social media changed in recent years? And how does it affect the way they write overall? 

How children write on social media: the highlights  

  • Kids choose to avoid using punctuation, such as apostrophes and accent marks in languages that use them
  • No punctuation, and mixing up words like ‘their’ and ‘there’ are some of the top errors on social media
  • Roughly 9 out of 10 kids don’t pay attention to how they write on social media
  • 20% of junior high and high-school students say they write as they speak
  • Online abbreviations, such as GNOC (get naked on camera), SUGARPIC (request for a suggestive photo), 420 (marijuana) and CID (acids and drugs) have now made it into how kids speak in regular conversation too

Do kids really write differently to adults on social media?

Kids ages 10–19 are capable of writing roughly 10 more words per minute than a 40-year-old, according to the Zurich Polytechnic University (ETH). Writing fast or texting on the internet and on social networks are the perfect ingredients for spelling mistakes. The culture of immediacy has caused young people to pay less attention to how they write, flooding the screens with spelling and other writing errors, such as the absence of accent marks, missing punctuation marks and confusion between words that sound the same but are spelled differently like their and there, according to the spelling software company Walinwa.

According to Alcalá de Henares University, 9 out of 10 young people do not pay attention to their writing when they communicate or interact on social networks. And 20% of junior high and highschool students say they “write like they speak”.

How does this affect how children write offline?

Kids are now bringing the abbreviations they write on the internet into the way they speak in normal conversation — making them difficult to understand for older generations. However, just because kids pay less attention to how they write on social media, doesn’t mean this habit crosses over into other situations where they need to use their writing skills. 

“Bad writing on the internet does not mean that children will automatically be bad writers in other settings. The most important thing is that parents pay attention not to how their children write, but to what they write. Some acronyms can be signs of risky behavior.”Eduardo Cruz, CEO and co-founder of Qustodio.

To help parents, we’ve compiled a series of acronyms that parents should know that might signal that their children are having inappropriate conversations or behaviors, inside and outside the network.

Acronyms to watch for on social media

  • Sexual content. Sexting is increasing more and more among the population, especially among boys, girls and adolescents. In fact, according to a study by EU Kids Online and INCIBE, 3 out of 10 minors have received messages with this type of content.
    • GNOC (get naked in front of the camera)
    • GYPO (get your pants off)
    • SUGARPIC (request for a suggestive photo)
    • 53X (sex) or CU46 (see you for sex)
  • Drugs and parties. According to the European Survey on Alcohol and Other Drugs published by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 9% of Spanish adolescents smoke daily and 17% tend to get drunk. 
    • 1174 (see you at the party)
    • 420 (marijuana)
    • CID (acids and drugs)
  • THOT
  • HOE
  • BOSH
  • SBW
  • SLUB