Thursday, May 7, 2009

From the Mouths of Teens

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I received my first newsletter from, the team effort of Girl Scouts and Microsoft Office to make the internet a safer place.

This monthly publication is loaded with excellent articles, from basic text lingo every parent should know to tips by online-safety expert Parry Aftab.
For starters, there’s a short “how-to” essay about texting and instant messaging, giving novice users (usually the grown-ups) the bare essentials in easy-to-read language.

The young experts tell us, “While text messaging for all users is mostly more popular than making or receiving phone calls, it’s much, much more popular with us teens. As of the end of June 2008, a typical mobile subscriber in the United States sent or received 357 text messages per month, compared to placing or receiving 204 phone calls according to Nielsen, the media research company.

Nielsen’s research also shows that the typical teen mobile subscriber in the United States (ages 13 to 17) now sends or receives 1,742 text messages per month, compared to making or receiving 231 mobile phone calls.”

If you can’t read a text shorthand message, maybe it’s time to pick up some language.

Common lingo according to the teen advisors is: jk—just playing; k—okay; cu—see you; brb—be right back; ttyl—talk to you later; bff—best friend forever; g2g—got to go; 18r—later. As a parent you might also find these good to know: prw—parents are watching; kpc—keeping parents clueless; 9—parents are watching and p911—parents coming in room alert.

What I love about the advice shared by the teen advisors is they also tell us how to help our children.

In this particular issue, the advisory board teens explain: “Adults give teens a lot of grief for texting ALL the time, but what adults and parents need to understand is that texting has become a huge part of our culture. Most parents don’t realize that texting is a big part of how we communicate, and that it doesn't mean we don't know how to communicate in the real world. Give texting a try with your teen and you’ll start to see the benefits.”

They also counsel that if inappropriate communications are taking place, we have things we can do: “Parents can help by being aware and supportive, not surprised or angry, that sticky situations can happen. Remind us to ‘stop, block and tell’ a trusted adult if harmful or mean messages are received.”

The ‘stop, block and tell’ message comes from Parry Aftab. It’s her way of reminding teens to stop—to not react before thinking or allowing a ‘cool down’ period, to block any additional communications with the offending party, and to tell a trusted adult.

The teens asked us to be sure and include our children in the cell phone plan making decisions. “This will give us a sense of responsibility for our actions by making us part of the process from the start.”

They did ask that no matter what plan or decisions you make about their online and texting use, adults should be honest. “Here’s a prime example of what not to do: telling us our plan has only 400 minutes or texts per month when it’s actually an unlimited plan. When we find out stuff like this later, maybe from our older siblings, it will just make us upset!”

Girl Scout/Microsoft project is an excellent resource for you whether you parent boys or girls. To sign up, visit:

Allyn Evans
info at

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