Understanding Why Teens and Tweens Use Trendy Text Lingo

Text messaging is a fairly recent invention. As parents, it's often easy to get confused about how in the world you're supposed to hit those tiny buttons with your fingers, or what exactly "LOL TTYL" means. (Hint: it doesn't stand for "lots of love.")

Teens especially love to use trendy text lingo to get their point across. All of those acronyms and shortened words are easier than typing everything out and they still get the same point across if the person who receives the message understands them.

As a parent, you're probably annoyed with the turn that language has taken. But, in fact, language is constantly evolving, and has been for hundreds of years, ever since it was created. That's part of what's so great about it. This move toward text-speak is just the latest evolution of the way we speak.

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Top 10 Trendiest Teen Texting Lingo Defined

With the advent of the digital age, the evolution of language is happening more quickly, especially among teens. They come up with their own language to express themselves, and often, it's nearly impossible for parents to understand what their kids are saying. Internet slang and lingo cycles so rapidly that it's hard to stay on top of figuring it out, especially when you aren't quite as plugged in as your son or daughter.

To help you understand the latest lingo, we've compiled a list of 10 current slang terms that your son or daughter might be using:

  1. FOMO: This acronym stands for Fear Of Missing Out. This is a form of social anxiety where someone is compulsively concerned about missing out on an event or interaction.

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To LOL, or Not To LOL? That is The Question

In the world of Social Media Etiquette, the acronym LOL is quickly evolving into a term with different meaning than "laughing out loud". Think about the last time you used LOL or saw it used: did it really indicate that you/they were literally laughing out loud? This article was originally published on USA Today by AP National Writer Martha Irvine.

If I thought something in a casual online conversation was funny, I typed it. If I wanted to let someone know I was kidding in an e-mail or an instant message, same.

I might've even felt a little cool, using inside lingo that, at one time, was exclusive to the online world. (You know I'm not the only one who thought so.)

Today, though, I'm sensing a shift, even in my own thoughts about LOL. Certainly, it's as ubiquitous as ever. Just search for it on Twitter or Facebook to see how often people use it. Not exactly deep and meaningful stuff, mind you, but there sure is a lot of it.

Perhaps that's why, at least in some circles, LOL has lost its cachet. And at its worst, it's making people a little cranky.

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Facebook Terminology for Parents

Your goal is to have regular conversations with your child about what's going on in his or her social networking universe, but if you're constantly interrupting with “Wait, what's a timeline?” or “You can video chat in Facebook?” you will quickly alienate your teen. If you want to be serious about parental monitoring, you have to know the channels your child is using.

Knowing the basic Facebook terminology, the world's most popular social network, helps you understand what social networking means to your child and facilitates an ongoing conversation about Internet safety. 

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Are Sexting and Texting Messaging Affecting Our Kids' English?

If you've seen one of your kids' text messages recently, you may have been concerned about what all that text-speak is doing to this generation's spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and general command of the English language. Do you need to?

It's true that text-speak is disconcerting to grammar purists, who shudder at the question “where u at?” or shortening entire phrases like “in my opinion” to “IMO.” Some English teachers also say they see too much informal language and too little structure in their student's writing, which could be attributed to texting and sexting.

However, studies like the one at the University of Toronto suggest that today's generation doesn't really have a problem switching between writing in “textese” to their friends and in more academic language in English class.

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@&%#?!! MTV Poll Says Kids' Language Worse Online + Sexting

An MTV poll shows that kids are both more likely to use vulgarity and slurs online and less likely to be offended when someone else does it. The online survey asked 1,355 people ages 14-24 about the language they and others use when texting or social networking, and found some surprising results. Much of this language is closely associated with cyberbullying, sexting, and other hot teenage issues.

Slurs targeting women, racial minorities, and homosexuals are becoming commonplace online. Kids also admit that they are becoming blasé about reading words like “slut,” “fag,” “retard,” and even the N-word in cyberspace.

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Text Lingo Every Parent Should Know

Whether we’re talking about text lingo, friending people online or the pictures our kids post online, the best tool to minimize risky behavior online is our active involvement.  Most children, teens included, say that their parents are the strongest influence over the decisions they make.

But even kids that have active parents make mistakes and sometimes we have to protect our kids from other people.  Therefore it is important that you are at least familiar with some of the text lingo terms that would indicate your child could be headed for trouble.  Here is a small sample:

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Kids, Texting and Text Lingo

Are you concerned that your child’s thumbs might fall off as a result of sending too many text messages?  Well join the club. If your home is anything like mine than you’re seeing the number of text messages being sent and received by your child head steadily upwards.  The average American teen now sends or receives one text message every nine minutes!

Text messaging is no longer just another way to connect with one another; it has become a cultural phenomenon.  Parodies on television of teens and tweens texting to one another while in the same room are funny because we can all imagine our own children doing the same thing. We’re asked to text in our vote to American Idol.  Barak Obama won the White House, in part, because of his team’s ability to engage young voters via text messaging.  The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently confirmed what every parent with a teenager already knows – texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and tweens and their friends.

Text messaging, officially called Short Message Service (SMS), has grown in popularity with teens for three primary reasons:

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We are pleased to announce that Bark will be taking over where we leave off. The uKnowKids mission to protect digital kids will live on with Bark. Our team will be working closely with Bark’s team in the future, so that we can continue making the digital world a safer, better place for kids and their families. While we are disappointed we could not complete this mission independently, we are also pleased to hand the uKnowKids baton to Bark.
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