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Do You Know What Your Kids Are Texting?

At the risk of sounding old, I will admit that I don’t even understand why kids text each other all the time.  It seems like a waste of time that accomplishes little more than to give one the appearance of being popular and in demand.

Looking important may be part of the appeal, but teens also like the ability to communicate with each other anytime, anywhere.  But the acronyms and slang terms they use when texting aren’t designed just to save time and keystrokes.  They are also meant to keep parents from knowing exactly what they are talking about.   

Enter Ryan Jones, software engineer and translator of the teen texting language.  In 2005, he created noslang, a site where Internet slang and acronyms are translated into plain English.  Type in your query, click the button and the true meaning is revealed.

But for Jones, what started out as a fun little hobby has turned into something more.  He has now made it his mission to help parents detect when their kids are texting about the two things they worry about most:  Sex and drugs.

“Whether you’re a parent, teacher, law enforcement officer or simply a concerned friend — it’s important to stay up to date on the latest drug-related slang terms.”

His site, however, is not comprehensive. He says that some of the texting slang he comes across is so disgusting that he can’t bring himself to include it in his online dictionary.  Nevertheless, parents are happy for the information he does include.  He says he gets thank you letters on a regular basis from parents grateful for the the education.  He also gets the occasional hate letter from teens who are angry that their code has been broken.

My kid is a little too young to be into the whole texting thing. She has a cell phone, but she rarely uses it for more than calling me to check in when she’s reached her friend’s house or to let me know when she’s on her way home.  But as more and more of her peers get cell phones themselves, I know that the texting will begin.  And I have every intention of regularly checking her texts and won’t hesitate to refer back to noslang – or any of the other online text translators – if needed.

If you are in need of a little text-education and you can’t find what you are looking for at noslang, check out Teen Chat Decoder, NetSmartz411 or 1337Talk.  Or visit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Parents. The Anti-Drug,  the Partnership for a Drug-Free America or the Office of National Drug Control Policy for lists of popular street terms and slang.

Image: Zawezome/Flickr

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