My tween daughter recently began asking me if I knew what certain texting and messaging abbreviations stand for. Apparently, she thinks I am an analog dinosaur because she was surprised to discover that BRB & IRL were not, in fact, mysteries to me, but a language I had used myself.
Unfortunately for my youngest mini-me, I then proceeded to bore her with tales of dial-up modems, AOL chat rooms, and 8-bit pixel graphics, while I found myself waxing lyrical about “the old days” like some old pioneer grandma discussing crossing the dusty plains in a wagon train.
I shared the trials and tribulations of waiting for a page to load, watching it slowly appear line by line from the top of the page, and having to unplug the phone and plug in the computer to get any internet at all. I also told her about how her parents used to talk in horribly basic chatrooms, like the internet-using pioneers that they were, laying the foundation for the codes she and her friends use today.
Once my little one wandered off, repulsed by the fact her mother thinks she is one of those cool moms, I got to thinking. The basics are the same, but just as language, in general, has evolved, texting must have too. With this in mind, I went on a quest to discover what codes teens and tweens were using today, and this is what I found.
“Keeping Parents Clueless” is one of the many codes used by youth engaging in activities they do not want their parents to know about. This in itself is, of course, nothing new.
I am sure you had a few moments in your teens that you didn’t want your parents finding out about, as I do.
The difference today is that it is much easier for our children to be manipulated by strangers and find themselves in a complicated position from which they can see no way out. Online predators encourage that secrecy and slowly lead teens and tweens down a path that can easily lead to depression, mental illness, and irrevocable decisions.
19 MOS or POS
Used interchangeably, MOS is “mom over shoulder,” and POS is, yep, you guessed it, “parent(s) over the shoulder.”
On its own, this is innocuous enough. What you need to worry about is the implications of using this slang term.
If your child is trying to covertly alert the person they are chatting with that mom is in the vicinity and can see what is happening on-screen, you have to assume that kiddo is doing so because they are worried the person on the other end is going to say, do, or share, which mom would not approve.
If you see the numbers 121 in a message to, or from, your child it is not a discussion about something between the numbers one-hundred and twenty and one hundred and twenty-two. This stands for one to one and basically means, “Let’s go and have a private chat, just the two of us, without anybody else being able to see what we are saying.”
Of course, this could be as harmless as two kids wanting to gossip, without the rest of their friends “overhearing” but it could be a warning sign of something less innocent.
Because nothing about being a parent can be easy, 1174 has two different meanings, depending on which group of teens with whom you speak.
First, it can be code for a meet at a party spot and is designed to make the message look like a specific street address instead of a meeting spot in the park or woods, etc.
For example, you might see “1174 Milne Park 2Nite.”
Secondly, it is used in place of “nude club,” i.e., “Do you want to join my 1174?” which is another way of asking for clothes-less photos.
It is unlikely that you would see LMIRL as part of a discussion between your child and a friend with who they were already well acquainted.
Meaning “Let’s Meet In Real Life” this piece of text speak is most frequently used by people who are only known to each other online and are planning the first encounter.
As with most items on this list, it could be innocent but, as an invitation to or from a person who has until now only been an internet acquaintance it could be a dangerous suggestion.
“Want To Trade Pictures?” is precisely what you think it is, an invitation to swap private photographs, but they do not always start out this way. It is one of the ways in which online predators slowly draw in their victims.
First, innocuous photos that anyone might post on social media are traded, then maybe blowing kisses or making suggestive faces.
After that, the predator slowly persuades their victim to send more suggestive photos and begins to threaten the child by saying “If you don’t do X, I will share the images you already sent with everyone you know".
In a similar way, S2R can be used to draw kids into situations they are not expecting and with which they are unequipped to cope.
Meaning “Send To Receive”, S2R is another invitation to trade photos, but more often used among people who know each other off-line than between strangers.
This “real-life” relationship does not make the possibilities of humiliation through misuse of the images any less. In fact, a number of teens have taken their own lives as a result of sharing private pictures that were subsequently made public.
Friends With Benefits is probably a phrase you are familiar with already.
However, you may not have made the connection between this description of pals who are available to each other for plenty of no strings attached encounters and the abbreviation FWB.
If you notice your teen talking about someone who is an FWB, don’t be fobbed off with the explanation that they are talking about a Friend With Books, as they may have told mom.
The only reason for discussing an FWB is because there is an added element to the relationship.
12 KMS/ KYS
Basically meaning to end one's life, KMS (myself) and KYS (yourself) are obvious red flags in your child's texting conversations.
Yes, it is possible that your child could be using this in general usage, and some kids do say things like “I was so embarrassed I could KMS” as a throwaway phrase, without meaning it in that kind of way.
However, it could be an alert that your child is going through tough times or that they could be bullying someone, telling them to do something they will never be able to take back.
As code that is frequently used both on and offline, 420 is a general reference to the green stuff and its use.
According to History.com, the code can be traced back to a group of California teens nicknamed the “Waldos" who would meet at 4:20 pm at a statue of Louis Pasteur in their school grounds. They met in order to go looking for a crop planted by a local who was unable to tend to it anymore.
They’d call “4:20 Louis” to each other in the school halls, eventually dropping the Louis part and keeping the 420 slang.
10 TDTM QT
“Talk Dirty To Me, Cutie” may be used as one phrase or it might just be TDTM. Either way, if your child is the recipient they are being encouraged to engage in that kind of chat.
If your young adult is the sender, well, sorry but they are the ones doing the encouraging.
Many tweens and teens consider lewd talk to be somewhat innocuous and do not yet have the life experience or emotional maturity to know how significant it can actually be.
To them, it may not appear to be as bad as trading pictures, but screenshots of private chats are just as destructive as images.
L?^ is short for “Let’s Hook Up”. How harmless, or otherwise, this suggestion is, depends entirely on the people speaking and the context in which it is said.
Hooking up can mean meeting up to hang out together, either in a pair or a group. It can also mean making out, with the emphasis on lightweight kissing and hugging. On the other hand, hooking up can be anything up to and including third base, in this case, similar to “Netflix and Chill.”
The idea here is that it's just a casual encounter with no strings attached.
Finally, to hook someone up with something frequently means getting them certain substances, so don’t immediately freak out about the other element.
If you see your child is using, or has responded to a request to GNOC on their child phone or other electronic devices, then it is important you are aware that it stands for “Get Naked On Camera.”
This can be used either be in relation to your child sitting and chatting while naked, online in a private discussion or on occasion in a more public, group chat. More frequently it is used to suggest someone removing clothes for the purpose of performing certain acts on camera.
In some ways, seeing IDKWTD sent by your child in a text or chat can be a good thing.
Although IDKWTF, short for “I Don’t Know What To Do”, may not be a direct request for help from you because it has been directed to someone else. If you see it, you have at least been alerted that your budding adult has an issue with which they need help.
This will give you the opportunity to speak with them generally about you being available for help. If they do not take the bait, then you can tell them you “overheard” they don’t know what to do about something and that you're there to help.
Meaning “I Hate You”, 182 might at first appear to be one of the more innocuous entries on the list, but if it is received as part of a campaign of bullying or sent by a close friend, it can be devastating.
Try to remember that at this age, your teen or tween, is still developing emotionally and such a comment can be a huge blow if it comes from the wrong person. It can also be significant if it is sent from a number of different people, as is often the case with cyberbullying.
Don’t automatically take this one lightly or downplay it as a teenage drama that will blow over without discussing it with your teen.
This is another one to look out for if you suspect your child is being bullied.
Although QQ started out in gaming forums, it doesn’t actually stand for anything but will instead produce a crying emoticon when used in a text. This code is most frequently used sarcastically so when a person you do not care about is unhappy about a situation or an exchange of words; you might use QQ to show you are “crying.”
The recipient will be under no illusions and will understand that you do not mean it and are being sarcastic, using QQ to show that you do not care.
If you are over a certain age, you might see BUFF and assume that it means a guy who is muscular, or in some other way attractive and “well built” but you couldn’t be more wrong.
BUFF means Big Ugly Fat with the last letter referring to an obscenity. This slang term is primarily used as an insult, usually in bullying cases.
Any mom who sees this in their teen or tweens messages should be concerned and speak with their child about the context of the comment and the use of insults.
While it may look like nothing much to worry about at first glance, DUM may be mistaken for a lazy spelling of dumb, and, theoretically, it could be. More likely than not though, if you see DUM, especially if it is capitalized in this way, you should assume it means “Do You --," with the last letter referring to self-pleasure.
This is another gateway question frequently used by predators feeling out potential victims. Teens & tweens will often say yes not because they want to share the information, but because they do not want to appear to be immature.
This can then lead to "showing how they do it" on camera because once they find themselves in the discussion, your child will find it difficult to back out and stop it.
2 CU46, 53X, LH6, 8, and IWSN
As hard as it is for parents to see their teenagers in this way, it's still imperative to be aware of the fact that a number of codes refer to certain kinds of acts.
CU46 means “See You For --,” with the last part referring to some between-the-sheets activities. You might also see CU453X which means the same thing.
53X is frequently used instead of typing out the entire NSFW word, not because it is any shorter, or quicker to type, but because it is less evident to those not in the know.
LH6 is “Let’s Have --,” and IWSN is “I Want -- Now.”
Finally 8, in this context, refer to acts of the oral variety because of 8/ate.
This abbreviation is often used when a girl is being bullied by peers. For a young teen or tween to be receiving messages commenting that she is a member of the IBTC mean she is being told she is flat-chested.
This can be a very sensitive subject, especially for a girl going through puberty, and can severely impact her self-esteem.
Standing for Itty Bitty -- Club, if you see IBTC on your daughter's messages, you will want to speak with her about bullying, body image, and self-esteem.