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Do u spk txt lyk ur kdz?

23 January 2012, 11:14

With all the abbreviations and acronyms our children use today, do you find yourself ambushed with a new foreign language?

But rather than shrugging your shoulders and hoping it’s a fad that will go away, it’s important that you get to grips with text-speak, so you can understand your children - you may even learn a few tricks about effective communication.

If you can’t understand your children, it’s equivalent to simply ignoring large swathes of their lives. While expert opinion is divided whether parents should maintain a clear hierarchy between themselves and their children, or deal with them on their own level, either way, you need to understand them.

What’s more, if parents don’t understand text-speak it can be a very useful code used by kids to hide conversations and activities from their parents. Now while this has gone on for as long as there have been parents and children, there are very real dangers out there that parents need to be aware of.

There are also concerns that using text-speak might impact children’s ability to spell and communicate in more formal settings, such as at school, university or job applications. Early studies have shown that this is not the case and that generally first language speakers can effortlessly shift their communication style according to the context. If they don’t, they learn to do so very quickly after minor correction by teachers or parents.

It helps to understand why children adopt text-speak – they are trying to fit as much information in as short a space of time to communicate quickly, effectively and cheaply. For instance, it’s far easier to use abbreviations especially on mobile phones where typing full sentences can be quite time consuming. Indeed, this is where parents can learn from their children and how they have adapted technology to suit them, both in terms of choosing the best way to communicate with their kids, but also when it comes to communication in general.

Children prefer text-based communications such as SMS and Instant Messaging (IM) to making voice calls, and increasingly don’t respond to voicemails or even have voicemail activated. So parents wanting to get in touch with their children are likely to get a better response from an SMS than a phone call.

Text-speak tips:

1.    Numbers are often used for words: 1 = one/won; 2 = to/too; 8 = ate

2.    Single letters or symbols can replace words: b = be, c = see/sea; @ = at

3.    Numbers and letters are combined: cu l8r = see you later

4.    Sound out the words phonetically: tx = thanks

5.    Understand the context: LOL could mean laugh out loud, but also lots of love

6.    Some common exclamations and phrases include: OMG = oh my gosh/god; BFF = best friends forever; ROFL = rolling on the floor laughing; LMAO = laughing my a** off;     BTW = by the way; BRB = be right back.

Red flags that parents should watch out for:

1.    ASL = age, sex, location (this means your child is engaging with an unknown person)

2.    PAW/PAL = parents are watching/listening

3.    LMIRL – let’s meet in real life

4.    Pron = porn

5.    NIFOC = nude in front of computer

Dr Pieter Streicher, MD of BulkSMS.com

What are some other text-speak words you have discovered your children using?

- Parent24

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