If you’re a parent, chances are you’re familiar with some of the common texting acronyms favored by tweens and teens, such as “LOL.” In fact, you may use some yourself while texting. But even social-media-savvy parents can have a hard time keeping up with the growing number of secret codes that adolescents use to communicate with one another, all while “KPC” (Keeping Parents Clueless).
“It started with things as simple as ‘LOL’ (Laugh Out Loud) or ‘IDK’ (I Don’t Know), simply things like that, but now it has progressed,” Ron Neupert, St. Charles County police department school resource officer in St. Louis, told local news KSDK-TV on Sunday.
Neupert, who has worked with teens for nearly 20 years, recommends that parents regularly monitor their tweens’ and teens’ social media accounts, including their texts, to keep them safe. But parents can only do so effectively if they’re able to decode teen text lingo — especially when it comes to acronyms that should raise a parent’s red flag, such as “FWB” (Friends With Benefits) and “LMIRL” (Let’s Meet in Real Life).
To test parents’ knowledge of common texting terms that adolescents use, the KSDK-TV news team quizzed local parents on 40 online acronyms. The results showed that most parents are completely in the dark when it comes to these social media acronyms. In fact, only one parent got three answers correct out of 40.
“I didn’t know any of them,” Guss Markwell, parent of a 12-year-old girl, told KSDK-TV. Added his wife, Karin: “My daughter knows more about technology now than us, even my 7-year-old [knows more]. That’s scary.”
Erica Nelson, who is the mom of a 16-year-old, said, “I came in thinking I would know more of some of the acronyms being used — the codes — but I failed the test miserably.”
Nelson added: “You might grab their phone checking it, thinking one thing, and they could have this whole other life, so to speak, going on, and you would be clueless.”
On its website, KSDK-TV lists 112 acronyms tweens and teens use on social media so parents can quiz themselves and even use it as a “cheat sheet” to decipher online codes. “If you see some strange, unusual acronyms on your child’s phone, which you should be looking at anyhow,” says Neupert, “it’s really time to sit down and have a conversation with your child.”