In Cyber Safety, Parents

Teen Text Abbreviations: What Your Kids Are Really Saying Online

Teen Text Abbreviations

You’ve been online since the mid ’90s, when AOL was a household word. Now you’re sending texts and Facebook messages back and forth to your kids and your friends, and after nearly 20 years of Internet use, you’re current with the chat lingo. Discover the most common Text Abbreviations now!

You knew text message abbreviations used to communicate on the Internet long before your kids were born.

You’re also the parent of a teen and you’re internet savvy, so you might believe you’re all set when it comes to knowing what your kids are doing online.

You understand that regardless of which device anyone uses — smartphone, laptop, tablet, or otherwise — the texting or messaging terminology is the same on the sending and receiving ends of any message, whether you are a parent, teacher, or businessperson.

Besides, you know dozens of common text abbreviations. You are one cool parent. Right?

Maybe not.

The good news is that you are aware of the basic abbreviations for texting even though they’re the same old ones you learned in 1996. Abbreviations like LOL (laughing out loud), BRB (be right back) and OMG ( Oh my gosh, God, or goodness) are used by everyone. You know that TTYL is quicker to type than talk to you later. No harm in those.

The bad news is that there are dozens of text abbreviations you haven’t used or even thought of. You might have seen them pop up on your teenager’s phone, but the truth is that you’re clueless what they mean. You’re afraid to ask because your teens might think you’re prying or suggest that you don’t trust them.

You are not alone.

Thousands of parents have no idea what their kids are talking about online. They don’t understand the real meaning behind all those texting abbreviations and gobbledygook phrases. Parents are often naive and should they figure it out, the embarrassment, even horror, at discovering what today’s teens are chatting about is sometimes too much for them to bear.

But it’s important that you don’t look the other way. It’s important that you find out what’s really going on behind that screen.

Sexting? What’s That?

Sexting is an accepted and expected practice carried out by a high percentage of teens, and it’s an epidemic in middle and high schools. The practice is so common that it was listed in 2012 in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as a new word.

Simply put, it is the practice of sending sexually explicit messages and images from one teen to another via mobile phones. Those messages come and go in the form of full words or groups of letters.

Whether or not sexting messages are voluntary or not, you, as a parent, need to understand that sending pornographic messages and pictures isn’t legal. The punishment fits the “crime” depending upon whether those involved are older or younger than 18 years of age. Some states have criminalized sexting, but enforcement is inconsistent. (

In turn, it’s incumbent upon parents to talk with their kids and help them understand that even though “everybody” is doing it, it’s wrong and if caught, there are serious consequences at home, school, and in the community.

Sexting can be messages that are fully understood by anyone or can be done via abbreviations. Regardless of which words or letters are used, it’s sexting.

Cyberbullying? I’ve Heard of it, but My Kid Wouldn’t Do That

As parents, we want to think that our kids would never do anything to hurt another child. We want to believe that our kids are well-behaved and don’t exhibit bad behaviors like bullying or cyberbullying. Sure, kids taunt and tease and hassle their siblings, but that’s normal. They’d never do that to a classmate.

Unfortunately and sadly, that isn’t the case. According to a survey conducted by McAfee, incidents of cyberbullying have tripled in the last year. The statistics are horrifying.

What Do These Text Abbreviations Mean?

A review of some texting abbreviation lists of common abbreviations and acronyms that teens use while communicating to each other online leaves many parents in shock. Some of the terms are perfectly proper for all to use and make perfect sense. And some are sexual, and others are used as bullying tactics.

For example:

  • IHU: Stands for “I hate you.” No teen wants to see that come across their screen.
  • NIFOC: You might think it means “not in front of computer,” but it doesn’t mean that at all. It means “naked in front of computer.” Teens use it when they’re talking to each other in a sexual way, joking, or as harassment. Even scarier, adult sexual predators pretending to be teens use it in chat rooms after they’ve determined they can get away with it.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents can no longer pretend that they don’t understand what their children are saying and doing online. Sexting, text abbreviating, and cyberbullying is all over the news. Information is readily available online and from teachers and school counselors and administrators.

Parents must educate themselves and take responsibility for overseeing the online activities of their kids. Parents also need to understand that it isn’t just 16-, 17-, and 18-year-old teens who are sexting and bullying; it’s happening in middle and junior high school as well.

McAfee released the results of their survey in an article published on June 3, 2014, and offered “Top 5 Tips for Parents to Help Educate Their Kids”:

  • Connect with your kids. Casually talk to them about the risks of all online connections, and make sure the communication lines are open.
  • Gain access. Parents should have passwords for their children’s social media accounts and passcodes to their children’s devices to have full access at any given moment.
  • Learn their technology. Stay one step ahead and take the time to research the various devices your kids use. You want to know more about their devices than they do. Get social. Stay knowledgeable about the newest and latest social networks. You don’t have to create an account, but it is important to understand how they work and if your kids are on them.
  • Reputation management. Make sure your kids are aware that anything they post online does not have an expiration date.

You will do yourself and your children a favor by learning as much as you can about the online world where they live. Understand their struggles and how and why they are trying to fit in. Find out if your child is the bully or the victim, and take corrective action.

Although the online world can sometimes be a scary place for anyone, it is also full of valuable information and resources for parents and teens

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