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 ...
-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.")
-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.
-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:
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:
(Related: Want to protect your kids on social media? Try a 30-day FREE trial of the Bark app!)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or share on social media. Come find Media Savvy Moms on facebook or Instagram.
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