Cyber slang is huge, used by millions of youngsters to communicate online and offline. It’s called web speak, text speak or netspeak, and it’s well worth getting familiar with. It’s mostly great fun, a creative way for young people to communicate discreetly and efficiently amongst themselves. And it’s also useful for getting a grip on what your kids are up to online; once you understand the most popular terms they use, you’ll be able to keep your eyes and ears open for potential trouble.
How many teens use text speak?
A recent survey by Nominet highlighted how a remarkably high proportion of teenagers use netspeak, with 81% of teens aged between 13 and 18 saying they use it regularly. 86% of those surveyed said they used it because it’s easy to type or text, and much faster than using longhand equivalents. 41% use it because their friends do. 25% think it’s ‘cool’. And 12% said it’s the way they tend to speak.
10-12 year olds seem to be more influenced by their peers than teens, with 60% using shortened words because it’s what their friends do, compared to 24% of 16-18 year olds using it because of peer pressure. And just under half of 10-12 year olds use text speak because it’s cool, compared to just 8% of 16-18 year olds.
The most common 5 cyber slang abbreviations
- LOL – laugh out loud – 77%
- OMG – oh my god – 60%
- WTF –what the f**k – 36%
- BRB – be right back – 27%
- Tweet – 12%
WTF is popular with older teens, 19% of whom said they use it regularly, but 10-12 year olds are also using it.
Common internet slang terms
Fraping – according to the Nominet study, 49% of parents don’t know what ‘fraping’ means. 37% got it right, saying it means logging onto to someone else’s Facebook profile without their knowledge and posting updates without their permission. And 44% of females recognized the term as compared to 30% of men.
Trolling – 58% of those surveyed correctly stated that trolling means repeatedly posting offensive remarks to provoke a response. But another 30% of parents didn’t know what it meant.
YOLO – 68% of the parents surveyed admitted they had no idea what YOLO means, while just 23% got it right. It means You Only Live Once.
POS – Parent Over Shoulder – was recognised by fewer than 40% of the adults surveyed.
ASL – more than a quarter (27%) understood that ASL stands for Age, Sex, Location, but 62% had no idea what it means.
LMIRL – Let’s Meet In Real Life – was only recognised by 8% of British parents.
More popular abbreviations to be aware of
- CU / CYA / CUL8R – see you, see ya
- ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
- AAF – as a friend
- ADAD – another day another dollar
- ADIH – another day in hell
- ADIP – another day in paradise
- AFK – away from keyboard
- 10Q / 10X – thank you
- BFF – best friends forever
- BTDT – been there, done that
- CYA – cover your ass
- DGAF – don’t give a f**k
- DIAF – die in a fire
- FML – f**k my life
- FU – f**k you
- FUD – fear, uncertainty, doubt
- HTH – hope this helps
- IWSN – I want sex now
- JK – just kidding
- LMAO – laughing my ass off
- LMK – let me know
- MYOB – mind your own business
- NIFOC – naked in front of computer
- PAW – parents are watching
- URS – you really suck
- WUG – what you got?
- WUU2 – what are you up to?
- YHBT – you have been trolled
Keeping up with changing trends
It’s a good idea to keep up with new trends in netspeak, which can come about through new technologies, new networks and changing online habits. There are plenty of online resources including Wikipedia, the Urban Dictionary and Wiktionary. Or just ask your children!