While many of our children are learning foreign languages in school, it appears many have also mastered an often disturbing language used outside the classroom: text code.
This ever-changing form of communication consists of at least 100 abbreviations and acronyms used by kids when they text one another. Parents may catch a glimpse of their kids' texts and have no idea what is being conveyed. Without a doubt, that's largely the appeal.
Text code can be harmless, such as "123" which means "I agree," or "Dime," which is a very attractive person (originating from the idea that 10 is the top score on a scale of 1-through-10).
However, some texts can be cause for concern, such as those dealing with sex, drugs and parental supervision.
If you're concerned we're about to reveal these dirty codes to teens and make the problem worse, teens are already aware of these. It's parents who are likely the only ones who don't know these secret codes, so here's a current but incomplete list:
LMIRL= Let's Meet In Real Life
CU46= See You For Sex
LH6= Let's Have Sex
GYPO= Get Your Pants Off
GNOC= Get Naked On Camera
IWSN= I Want Sex Now
WTTP= Want to trade pictures?
S2R= Send to Receive (pictures)
Sugarpic= Refers to a suggestive or erotic photograph
TDTM= Talk dirty to me
A3= Anytime, anywhere, anyplace
Bud or Tree= Marijuana
420= Let's get high
Pharming: Getting into medicine cabinets to find drugs to get high on
Robo-tripping: Consuming cough syrup to get high
China girl, China town, or tango and cash: Fentanyl
9, CD9, Code 9= Parents are nearby
99= Parents are gone
MOS, POS= Mom Over Shoulder, Parent Over Shoulder
KPC= Keeping Parents Clueless
Internet Safety 101 published a complete list of acronyms parents should know.
Dr. James Sells, Regent University's assistant dean of the School of Psychology and Counseling told CBN News parents need to carefully approach the topic of reading their teenager's texts.
"Parents of teenagers who worry about crossing a boundary have probably lost the battle," he said. "What I mean by that is, if you have to control your kids' texts at age 16, you have bigger issues than the text."
Sells says parents need to start establishing "expected behavior to live by" when their children are pre-school age. Patterns of open communication begin early on, he says, when parents teach the lessons of family responsibility.
"The first step to being a true authority in a home is a sense of humility," Sells said, adding parents need to convey "what could affect you, could affect all of us," and the overriding message that "we will care for each other."
Sells said, ideally, teens and parents should trust one another and neither parents nor teens should feel the need to hide texts.
However, he said if parents have reason to believe their teen might be involved in risky behavior, parents should avoid looking at their teen's texts without the child knowing it.
"Functioning as a nefarious parent ultimately undermines trust, and the objective is to build trust," he said.
Instead, Sells recommends parents institute a give-and-take policy, saying to the child, "Our communication is going to be open from now on. You are going to see my texts and I'm going to see yours," adding that the policy needs to be developed over time, "Not: 'In 15 minutes everyone shows their texts.'"
Sells said, just like a generation ago when parents had to decide on an individual basis how much time children should be allowed to talk on the telephone, parents today need to monitor their child's time on various electronic media.
"I don't want to convey the message that cell phones are bad," he said. "They're delightful tools for social development. However, any tool can be misused and become an addictive experience," he said.