Parent's Guide to Internet Speak
The days of Pig Latin are gone. There is a new language of code words, acronyms, and computer shorthand among teens. Kids are using it to disguise their conversations online and with instant messaging. Remember when we just whispered on the phone behind our bedroom doors?
But now you can find out what they're saying. Erin Jansen, an Internet consultant, has created a dictionary of the indecipherable language at http://www.netlingo.com/. (Side note: there is also an extensive list here of technical computer terms that's a great cheat sheet for the un-technified!)
Lingo2Word steps it up a notch with an interactive translator. All you do is type in your mysterious text and you get real English in return. They also feature popular up to the minute net lingo.
Twenty Words Every Parent Should Know:
According to www.netlingo.com:
POS: Parent over shoulderPIR: Parent in room P911: Parent alert PAW: Parents are watching PAL: Parents are listening ASL: Age/Sex/Location MorF: Male or female SorG: Straight or gay LMIRL: Let's meet in real life KPC: Keeping parents clueless TDTM: Talk dirty to me IWSN: I want sex now NIFOC: Nude in front of computer GYPO: Get your pants off ADR: Address WYCM? Will you call me? KFY: Kiss for you MOOS: Member(s) of the opposite sex MOSS or MOTSS: Member(s) of the same sex NALOPKT: Not a lot of people know that
Why the Lingo?
Teenage computer speak is specifically designed to mask the meaning of their messages from parents and other adults. They can engage in whole conversations with a clueless parent looking at the screen. They can have a steamy affair complete with dirty details without getting caught.
Scarier still are the terms used by adults to lure kids into inappropriate relationships. Beware of NIFOC (nude in front of computer) and TDTM (talk dirty to me) especially when coupled with PIR (parent in room) a warning from the teen.
What’s a Parent to Do?
Should you be afraid, very afraid? Nah. Just educate yourself. Remember that this new language is always evolving. Get into the chat rooms your child visits. Don't get angry, get smart. We all want to protect our children from danger online. Net nannies won't do the trick. Keep communication lines open with your child. You can't monitor every single thing your kid does. You've got to instill your values and expectations and then trust the child from there.
Let kids come up with solutions. Agree on a set of behaviors acceptable for your family. They need to understand the why and how of protecting personal information. Most of all, they need to trust their own intuition enough to honor an icky feeling they get from an online interaction, and they need to trust you enough to let you know about it.
Many school districts are working with law enforcement to present Internet safety workshops for parents. Ask your school and if there's nothing planned, put one together.
My Kid Would Never Do That
Media Awareness Network did a survey in which 11-14-year-old girls admitted to revealing identifying information once they felt they had established trust in an online relationship. The scary part? The reported the trust could be gained in as little as fifteen minutes. This company creates presentations for school workshops as well.
We all want to believe that our kids are smart enough to avoid danger, but the truth is that it's our responsibility as parents to keep them out of dangerous situations as long as possible. They are going to learn this stuff from their friends and as parents we need to be on the offensive.
Here's a fun quiz for younger kids and parents:
"Leetspeak" is another language in itself. Learn to decipher the code at: