Just when you thought it might be time for you to slack off and treat your teen to a 24-hour period marked by mutual respect, benefit of the doubt and minimal invasion of privacy, there’s a new threat all up in your grill: secret teen text codes.
It turns out that many teens are using Enigma-level codes and abbreviations to conceal the sordid meaning of their online conversations.
This terrifying problem is not new, people. Back in 2014, CNN covered 28 “secret” teen-created acronyms that parents should memorize, then carve into their forearms for quick reference. The list included NIFOC (naked in front of computer), KOTL (kiss on the lips) and LH6 (let’s have sex).
You say you already know the lingo? In fact, you just texted your kid “LOL BRB”? Sure, you thought you were telling her you were chuckling aloud and stepping away momentarily. But what were you really saying? Times — and online acronyms — are changing, and parents need to stay alert. Maybe your daughter thinks you’re “Licking Oliver’s Love-thang, Banging Robert’s Brother.” New codes are reportedly springing up every day. You can’t be too careful anymore!!!
More: 4 tips for managing cellphone use with text-happy kids
That’s right, parents. It’s the season of Secret Santa, but you procreated and this is what you get: a slack-jawed, glassy-eyed secret sexter whose soul you must endeavor to save, 24/7. There will be no rest for you. Not now. Not ever.
If it makes you feel any better, this wanton abbreviating is not a new phenomenon with teens, and we’re all still here. Why, back in the 1950s, kids who looked like the cast of Grease were all scribbling notoriously disturbing, suspiciously short messages in each other’s yearbooks. (My own mother’s yearbook is full of this sketchiness — at least 23 instances of 2 Sweet 2B 4gotten — and she lived to tell and create her own monster teens).
Still, as modern-day parents in an inter-nutty world, we should take no chances. What can you do about this upsetting trend of secret teen text codes?
First, freak out. Definitely freak out because that always helps foster better parent-child communication. Next, confiscate your teen’s phone, tie your teen to his desk chair and waterboard him with a Waterpik until he gives up the code for every short, suspicious series of capital letters that you find in his messages.
Consider a cyber monitoring system like Bark, which automatically detects messages containing cyberbullying, sexting and signs of depressive or suicidal thoughts — saving you endless hours of middle-of-the-night sleuthing to figure out just how ruined your child is.
More: Lessons all teens should know about texting
Take our handy-dandy secret teen text code quiz. Here at SheKnows, we take knowing stuff pretty seriously. We dug deep to unearth the coded lingo that’s putting your kids at risk of putting you at risk of looking more stupid and clueless than ever. Take this important quiz and see how you measure up!
1. GNOC means: a. a polite vote for potato gnocchi for dinner b. Get Nana On Crack c. Get Naked On Camera.
2. IWS is: a. I Want Soup b. I Will Sue c. I Want Sex
3. GYPO means: a. Grandpa, You Pee Often? b. Gag Your Parole Officer c. Get Your Pants Off
4. PIR is: a. Probably I’m Reading b. Peeps in Rubbish [seasonal only] c. Parent in Room
5. PRON means: a. Your child needs help sounding out a word b. Your child is jonesing for crawfish and grits c. Porn, you idiot
6. THOT: a. As in, who would have? b. Take Her Off Tylenol c. That Ho Over There, obviously
7. KPC means: a. Kentucky Fried Chicken, mangled by autocorrect b. Kick Pop’s Cat c. Keep Parents Clueless
8. 53X is: a. algebra homework b. European sizing c. sex
9. POS means: a. Piece of Sugar b. Piece of, um, Shirt c. Parent Over Shoulder
10. IPN is: a. like an IPA, but slightly less hoppy b. I’m Pissed Now c. I’m Posting Naked
Extra Credit: Your teen leaves her cell on the kitchen countertop while she goes upstairs to yell at her little sister for using her new Kylie Jenner lip-gloss palette. You just happen to notice when a text comes in that reads: “99 TDTM. CD9? WTTP?”
- Take her phone back to the store and exchange for one that’s not malfunctioning.
- Ground her until she graduates from a Ph.D. program
- Ask her who wants her to talk dirty and trade naughty pictures while parents are MIA. Listen to her answer without flapping and wringing your hands like a Tennessee Williams character. Engage in an open dialogue, expressing your concern in a constructive, loving fashion.
[TKWPWDT!!! TOTES KIDDING! WHAT PARENT WOULD DO THAT?!?!]
Mostly a’s: Bless your heart, you lamb. It’s amazing you even figured out how to make babies.
Mostly b’s: You have anger issues. No, seriously. You should probably talk to somebody.
Mostly c’s: You’re a good guesser. Or you’re on your seventh kid and none of them is snorting coke as far as you know. Or you’re a dirty, dirty little bird yourself. Make sure your kid never checks out your browsing history or your iMessage attachments.