Do You Speak Text?

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Sometimes I feel like the Margaret Mead of mothers. I spend a lot of time observing my two teen daughters in their natural habitat, attempting to analyze their strange tribal rituals and decipher their language. This is especially true when it comes to their use of text messaging. It’s not just that they do it incessantly and at lightning-fast speed– it’s also that it has taken me awhile to figure out just what the heck they’re saying.

One of the darker sides of teen texting is that acronyms, cryptic language and secret code words can be used in plain sight to hide inappropriate and even dangerous behavior. There are literally hundreds of slang terms that refer to sex and drugs alone, and while it might look like gibberish to you, chances are your teen knows exactly what it means. There are lots of ways to learn the lingo, starting with the most obvious: ask your teen to teach you!

Some of it is pretty easy to figure out. In text-speak, vowels are left out and numbers and letters are often mixed together so that “see you later” becomes “c u l8r.” My girls actually enjoyed showing me the ropes, especially when I got it wrong; few things warm a teenager’s heart more than watching their mom screw up.

If your child is reluctant to help you crack the code (which would be a red flag in itself to me), there are a myriad of websites that can do it for you. Google  “teen text language” and you will find page after page of links like NoSlang, Webopedia and Teenchatdecoder. These sites are helpful because things get trickier when abbreviations or word substitutions are used. Those are probably the text messages you REALLY want to understand, because there’s usually a reason they are being sent in code. For instance, if you saw these phrases on your child’s cell phone, would you know what they mean?

KPC: keeping parents clueless

Zerg: to gang up on someone

420: marijuana

8: oral sex

When it comes to protecting our children, forewarned is forearmed. Recent statistics suggest it’s not unusual for teens to send and receive up to 3000 texts a month. That’s a lot of conversation! Also, reports say that 64 % of parents check on the contents of their child’s cell phone, so don’t buy the “NOBODY’S parents do that” argument.

Yes, texting bastardizes the English language. Yes, it seems obnoxious, excessive and unnecessary to those of us who grew up only being allowed to chat with friends on our pink princess phones after school and on the weekends. But taking an interest in something that is such a large part of your teen’s life, and going to the trouble to learn how to speak their language is worth it. If text-speak offers me one more way to communicate and connect with my girls, then it’s a very valuable thing to know.

I’d love to hear your input—and for every comment you leave, a $.50 donation will be made to DoSomething.org, a great organization that is “using the power of online to get teens to do good stuff offline.”

So, answer me this:

How familiar are you with your teen’s texting language? Have you taken any steps to learn it?


Disclosure: I was compensated for this sponsored review.

5 Responses

  1. anna

    very interesting…

  2. LindaB

    THREE THOUSAND TEXTS A MONTH???? No wonder the young person living in this house doesn’t want to talk to me! She’s exhausted!

    This is all good information. If I had a teen growing up in my home right now, I’d sure learn all I could about this texting business. I just learned to text a few weeks ago. It is cool.

  3. delightedabroad

    In addition to learning this kind of language parents could perhaps show their kids the beauty and the specialties of their first language; literature (or theatre) offers countless examples. Might be helpful to try catchy texts first. Lately I ‘discovered’ a German comedian who is able to give a 3-minute summary of Hamlet e.g. and it’s even rhyming! He made it in allday language but hits the point. That was soo funny and along the way you get an idea of what this piece is about.

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