PAW LMIRL . . . Social Media and Your Teenager

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PAW LMIRL . . . Social Media and Your Teenager
By: Wendy Ogryzek, June Bachman and Teresa Mitchell ~ 3/8/2011

We interrupt your regularly scheduled newsletter from bWyse for all of the parents of teenagers out there. It's been awhile since we wrote about kids … and their unique texting, chatting and facebooking language. We thought an update was in order.

It is no surprise to parents of tweens and teens that over 47% believe their social life would simply END without their cell phone. And, nearly 60% of teens credit their cell phone for improving their life. In fact, teens spend just as much time talking as they do texting each day, making them a significant part of the over 1 billion text messages sent each day.

Texting … can also be defined as the communication method preferred by teens … their form of language. For today's teens it is about multitasking, privacy, speed and control. It is no surprise that the average teen can juggle between three to five chat sessions with different people at any given time. Teens do so while searching the internet, doing homework and listening to music. It’s no wonder 42% of teens say they can text blindfolded!

The development of the texting language is based in abbreviations. Due to the cell phone text limitation of 160 characters, plus teen's desire for privacy, what has emerged is an entire slang/language comprised of abbreviated terms. Some of the more outrageous terms are:

  • 2lc = Ecstasy
  • % = Hung over
  • Juggler = Teenage drug dealer
  • YSG = You’re so gay (not meaning homosexual but rather lame)
  • GNOC = Get naked on ‘cam
  • DOC = Drug of choice
  • Kicker = Oxycontin
  • Barr = Codeine cough syrup
  • KPC = Keeping Parents Clueless
  • AITR = Adult In The Room
  • P911 = Parent Emergency
  • PAW = Parents Are Watching
  • PIR = Parent In Room
  • POS = Parent Over Shoulder
  • PLOS = Parents Looking Over shoulder
  • PRW = Parents Are Watching
  • MOS = Mom Over Shoulder
  • MIRL = Meet In Real Life
  • S2R = Send To Receive (pictures)
  • LMIRL = (Lets) Meet In Real Life
  • CD9 = Code 9 (means parents are around)
  • E or X = Ecstasy (the drug)
  • ASL(R P) = Age Sex Location (Race / Picture)
  • TDTM = Talk Dirty To Me

Additionally, teens will also substitute words within a sentence to hide what they may be talking about. For example, "Did you get the grape juice I left for you?" instead of, "Did you get the weed?" Kids are so used to these practices they understand each other’s substitutions, even though they may never be "spelled out."

Monitoring your kid’s texting can be a difficult task. While 61% of parents state they have internet rules, only 37% of teens say they are subjected to monitoring from their folks. Even parents who monitor their kid's online activities may still not know what their kids are actually saying. Here is a website resources to help parents decipher the texting language:

Not to worry … the experts tell us that teens generally grow out of the acronyms round about college-age. And wait … there is good news as well.

Using social media technologies such as texting and facebook do result in the development of teen's emotional bonds, their identities, and their ability to communicate and work with others. Studies have shown that those teens that spend time communicating via texting and on social media sites are actually the healthiest psychologically. Also, researchers conclude adults should be urged to facilitate teenager’s engagement with digital media - as opposed to blocking it, begrudging it or fearing it. The digital world creates new opportunities for teenagers to engage with social norms, explore interests, develop technical skills and explore new forms of self-expression.

In addition to better understanding what your teens are saying when they text and chat online, there are a few things you can do to increase your teen’s safety.

  • Place computers with internet access in "public" areas of your home, such as the family room, or where you spend the most time. It will be easier to monitor the online activity.
  • Disconnect the webcam from the computer.
  • Determine which activities you find appropriate, define your rules, and discuss those rules with your teenagers. Rules should include your teen providing you with the social media sites, as well as usernames and passwords to their accounts.
  • Add parental control monitoring and filtering software to your computer such at Net Nanny  or Cyber Patrol . Such software restricts online access by filtering where your teens can go online.
  • Watch what is going on – on your computer. Take the time to check the browser history. Insist your teens accept you as a friend on facebook. Routinely log in and check the activity on their social media accounts.
  • Increase your overall awareness. If your teen is quickly closing windows when you enter the room, know there is probably a reason … they don’t want you to see what they're up to.
  • Talk to your teens. Remind them about the importance of internet safety and why they need to be careful.

The reality is that texting and social media technology is here to stay. It is an integral part of your teenager’s communication skill set. Being aware of their language will help improve communication between you and your teenager.