Television station WBTV in North Carolina has offered up a brief guide to interpreting the cryptic messages your kids are sending via instant message or cellphone texts. They claim that almost all of us “don’t recognize the lingo kids use to let people know that their parents are watching.” I’m not sure how accurate that is — it certainly wouldn’t hold true amongst the parents I know — but even if it is, the question that I have is, isn’t that the point?
Part of the process of growing up is taking those steps out from under the care and guidance of parents and it seems to me that speaking — or texting — in “code” is part of that. My high-school-aged niece steadfastly refuses to be my friend on Facebook and that’s okay — she needs the opportunity to try out her independence. But she’s a good kid — responsible, smart, studious and motivated. I, on the other hand, was no angel and I know quite well how in the dark my parents were about what I was into.
So perhaps, even with the good kids, one needs to be involved and aware, but does that really mean snooping on their communications? Or perhaps it would be better still just not to give them cell phones in the first place? How much freedom should kids get? Do we really need sites like Teen Chat Decoder?