If you’ve been brave enough to give your child a mobile phone, particularly if it’s a smart phone, chances are your child will be using it to message people. If their friends also have phones, they could be spending hours a day on this activity.
Whether they’re sending messages via sms, or more likely via an app like WhatsApp, they’ll be using text talk. We all use acronyms of course and we all know the obvious ones like LOL and LMAO. However children and teenagers use an extensive range of acronyms as well as emojis that most of us as parents just don’t know.
The problem with this is obvious – even if we monitor the messages our children are sending and receiving, we still don’t have a clue what they’re talking about!
Here’s a quick 10 question quiz for you – no sneak peeking for the answers until you’ve had a chance to think about them first!
Question 1: What does an emoji of a cheeky monkey with paws over its mouth mean?
Question 2: What does an emoji face with cross eyes mean?
Question 3: What does KMS stand for?
Question 4: What does MIA stand for?
Question 5: What does 99 mean?
Question 6: What does GNOC stand for?
Question 7: What does ASL stand for?
Question 8: What does 182 mean?
Question 9: What does WTTP stand for?
Question 10: What does LMIRL stand for?
So, how do you think you went? Don’t worry if you didn’t get them all right, most parents are doing well to know half of them. This is not about being tough on yourself, it’s about increasing your awareness of how your children are likely to be communicating with their friends and others via instant messaging and social media platforms.
Here are the answers to the quiz questions:
Question 1: “I won’t tell anyone”
Question 2: They’ve seen something x-rated online (most parents think this could mean their child is tired, they couldn’t see their friend’s point of view, or they’ve been snubbed by a girl or boy – not even close!)
Question 3: Kill Myself (as opposed to Keep My Secret – good guess)
Question 4: Bulimia (no, your kids don’t mean Missing In Action!)
Question 5: Parents have stopped watching (how does that relate to 99?!?)
Question 6: Get Naked On Camera (just what you want your kids sending and receiving – NOT!!)
Question 7: Age, Sex, Location
Question 8: I hate you (important possible sign of cyber bullying)
Question 9: Want To Trade Pictures? (Particularly worriesome for any parent)
Question 10: Lets Meet In Real Life (as above but even more so!)
This Is Just The Start
Of course, there are literally thousands of acronyms in use right now, and no-one, including your children, can be expected to know them all. What makes it even more difficult is that sometimes the same acronym can mean two completely different things, depending on who’s using it and on the context. Some acronyms are perfectly innocent while others are downright scary.
There’s a list of 1453 acronyms here but be warned – acronyms are constantly changing and growing, with new ones coming out all the time.
The Best Way To Understand Your Children
The best way to understand what it is your children are really talking about is simply to ask them. It’s important to set the ground rules up front, if possible before your children even have a phone or access to social media or other chat platforms.
For instance, your children need to know that you can check their phone or social media activity at any time, and that if you ask them what anything means they need to tell you. This is not because you want to invade their privacy, but because you want to keep them safe and to have the opportunity to help them if they get themselves in trouble through their online activities.
It’s A Minefield Out There, But Here’s How You Can Help
For those of us who are not overly tech-savvy, yet who know that our children are digital natives who are naturally way more savvy than we could ever hope to be, there is help available!
The first step is to increase your awareness of the problems and risks your children will face when they go online or use their phone. That way you can place yourself in a better position to guide them safely through their digital world, just as you do their physical world.
The quickest and easiest way to do that is by joining me on my next live webinar. If you can’t make it live just register anyway so that you can watch the replay in your own time. The information shared is priceless, and the only cost to you is your time – but what better way to invest your time than in the safety of those most precious to you? I look forward to seeing you there 🙂