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Who knew honest conversations about parenting and pornography could be so laid-back and fun? Join Melody and Marilyn for a series of chats and interviews on their journey to help fellow parents tackle this challenging topic with their kids.

Dec 4, 2019

Kid lingo, teenspeak, slang … whatever you wanna call it, we old folks are out of the loop. But what are they saying? Which words are just for fun? And which are cause for concern? Let’s talk about it!

 

We consider ourselves to be pretty cool parents. But our kids think we’re cringey or a little extra. Wait … are we even using these terms correctly? We are? Groovy! Yeah, we just ruined it, didn’t we? (*sigh*)

 

Language is always evolving. But it seems like these days, it’s evolving faster than ever. Add internet, social media, memes, digital devices, texting, and you have a linguistic cocktail that is bound to leave any parent in the dust. And it’s not just teens. Even our elementary-age kids seem to be in the know about slang and “meme culture.” Meanwhile, we are left scratching our heads.

 

In a world where sexuality and violence have saturated--well--everything, of course they have found their way into our language and slang as well. And so we are left to wonder: Are our kids talking about sexual and/or violent things right under our noses in the code-language of slang and memes? The answer is yes. And no. Okay, the answer is: sometimes. 

 

In reality, we just need to do our best to bridge the gap and create open communication--as always! After all, they are doing their best to figure everything out in this crazy world, just like we are. We love this quote from Netsanity:

 

“By learning our way around the tricky language of our teens we allow ourselves to not only build a stronger bond with them but also know when they’re in potential danger.” (emphasis added)

 

So let’s break it down. Today we will be discussing how ...

 

  1. We’re not kids anymore (*sniffle*)
  2. Some slang can hurt--or indicate distress
  3. You can decode kid lingo: Use these tools! 

 

  1. WE’RE NOT KIDS ANYMORE, WE’RE GETTING OLD 

-Can we even keep up? Slang is ever-evolving. 

-We’ve got so many stories about being on the outside of the conversation, we really don’t know where to start! LOL

-Marilyn has a thread going with her kids on facebook messenger, and they know that her default response to their memes is a crying emoji -- “That means I’m clueless,” she says.

-Why do kids use slang and codes? (1) to be sneaky, (2) to create their own identity or fit into social groups, (3) to express their independence. 

-Kids use codes to communicate with each other: text, slang, emojis.

-Recently there has been a shift to more visual forms of communication between kids like memes and gifs (not so text heavy).

-”Meme culture” is now a thing. Kids speak in memes. They tell us, “You don’t even have to see it to know what they’re talking about.” (i.e., You’ve been “Rick Rolled.” Google definition: On the Internet, a RickRoll is a prank where a visitor who clicks on a specific link is intentionally misdirected to a video of pop star Rick Astley's hit "Never Gonna Give You Up.")

 

  1. SOME SLANG CAN HURT--OR INDICATE DISTRESS

-The old adage, “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” just isn’t true! 

-Words can hurt feelings and put our kids at risk. 

-We need to watch out for our kids and their friends using reckless language and be aware about when slang perpetuates sexual objectification. (See list below and tools in section 3.) 

-Teach kids to think about the language they use and memes they share.

-Teach kids to avoid brutal/racist/derogatory slang, and teach them the reasons WHY. 

 

Related: Survival Instincts: The New Language of Tween Girls (ParentsAware)

 

-Some kids are purposely modifying words or using language that evades filters so they can discuss violent or sexual topics online (like hooking up or suicide).   

-We need to teach our kids to be critical thinkers.

-Here are some specific categories we need to watch out for when it comes to slang and language/conversation in general:

  1. Racism. Sometimes kids use racial slurs as a term of endearment, or tease each other with reference to race. Teach them this is not okay. 
    1. “wordporn” - beautiful handwriting (or anything-”porn” to describe things that are highly desirable or beautiful)
    2. TV shows with titles like  “Pawn Stars” (which is about a pawn shop) or “Chasing Tail” (which is about deer hunting) that have nothing to do with sexual content but are using sex in the title to get people’s attention. 
    3. “pimped out” - added accessories to make it look cooler (i.e., he “pimped out” his ride with a new paint job, big speakers and chrome wheels)
    4. “ear-rape” - terrible music that you hate (or anything-”rape” for things that bother you or are unpleasant
  2. Sex. We have heard so many trends that tie sexual content into the mainstream, and it is really disturbing. We need to keep the humanity in these terms and not allow ourselves (or our kids) to become desensitized to their real meaning. Here are some specific examples:  
  3. Drugs. Sometimes mainstream terms have their roots in drug culture, but no longer reflect that reference. These terms might not always be directly dangerous, but we need to be alert and teach our kids to think critically about why they are using these words. (i.e. Kids use the word “dank” to mean “cool,” or we might say “my brain is fried” because we are worn out, but both of these are actually references to marijuana.) 
    1.  “Deathpacito” - a pop culture reference to the song “Despacito” which is the Spanish word for “slowly”; essentially “deathpacito” is slang for “killing yourself slowly” and is often used by kids on public forums and through text because it is not a real word, and therefore not flagged by filters and parental controls 
    2. “Ana” and “Thinsp” - references to anorexia and eating disorders
    3. “Sue” - suicide
  4. Self-harm. Kids might be texting or posting with reference to suicide as a cry for help. Or, even worse, some kids receive cyberbullying attacks where peers encourage them to kill themselves. Here are some terms to watch out for that are all references to suicide and self-harm:
  5. Dark humor. Kids will sometimes use insults or derogatory names in an effort to be funny or because they are “just teasing.” Also, kids can become a “different person online.” Teach them that these things are not okay. Talk about these subjects openly. Teach them that there is always a real person on the other side of the conversation and/or on the other side of the computer screen. Teach them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. 

 

III. YOU CAN DECODE KID LINGO: USE THESE TOOLS!

-Language will continue to grow and change, and before you know it, the things we are talking about right now will be outdated! Even this show is only one point in time. For that reason, we want to teach you about techniques and tools to deal with these issues, rather than only giving you long lists of slang words and what they mean. 

-Here are some specific suggestions:

  1. Ask your kids. If you hear a word--or see a meme--and don’t know what it means, ask the experts: your children! Kids like to feel important--like we’re interested in their life, and they LOVE IT when they know things we don’t. Remember, we always want to create a safe place, like a Construction Site, where we can talk to our kids about anything! And that includes crazy kid lingo. :)
  2. Start a family group text. Create a thread wherever your family hangs out: on a text message, in a facebook chat, etc. Communicate regularly. Share funny stuff and serious stuff. Take selfies. LOL together. Share memes and gifs. Use it for “show and tell.” 
  3. Follow “Ye Olde Speak.” Bark has a hilarious series on their blog and social media where they post about teen slang and define different words on a regular basis. It will keep you laughing and get you in the loop at the same time! 
  4. Post a question in the Parenting in a Tech World facebook group. This private forum, also hosted by Bark, is a fabulous place to ask all your questions about raising the digital generation. We are in this group, along with more than 50 thousand other parents and members of the staff from Bark. Usually, when we post questions, people start replying within just a few minutes! Let’s all figure out this stuff together.

 

(Related: Want to protect your kids on social media? Try a 30-day FREE trial of the Bark app!)

 

  1. Do a Google search. If you are curious about a specific slang word, you can always Google it. Or, if you want a list of slang terms, we have found some of the most effective search terms to be: “slang dictionary for parents” or “teenage slang words 2019” (insert the current year). 
  2. Check out our link list. Want results right now? Explore some of the links below. 

 

Challenge: Learn a new slang term, and use it in a sentence when you’re talking to your kids. Then let us know how it goes! Email us at mediasavvymoms@gmail.com or share on social media. Come find Media Savvy Moms on facebook or Instagram.

 

Links/Resources:

Urban Dictionary - a crowdsourced online dictionary for slang words and phrases (warning: some definitions might be vulgar and/or contain profanity)

Teen Slang Guide - Netsanity (updated for 2019)

The Teen Slang Dictionary for Parents - Very Well Family (updated Oct 2019)

17 slang words teens are using in 2019, and what they mean - Business Insider (Aug 2019)

Get hip to all the slang words and phrases your kids are using and what they mean, okurrr - USA Today (Feb 2019)

Parent Guide: Teen Slang Through the Ages - Bark (Jan 2019)

'It's lit': The ultimate guide to decoding your teen's text and speak - USA Today (Aug 2018)

Parents, Do You Know the Most Common Emojis Used in Sexting? - Educate and Empower Kids

Translating Slang for Parents (+ Text Codes) - Educate and Empower Kids

Parent Dictionary: Porn-Specific Search Engine Terms - Educate and Empower Kids