A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Youth Slang Words

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If you’ve ever looked at your tweens’ or teenagers’ messages and social media and didn’t have the slightest clue about what they’re talking about, know this—you’re not alone.

It’s no secret that teenagers use online slang not only to save time, but also to hide conversations from their parents. And the numbers don’t lie about teens—they’re online an average of nine hours a day and getting their first devices at increasingly earlier ages, currently at around ten years old.

So, how do you properly monitor tweens and teens and ensure their safety online?

To start, you’ll need a solid grasp of the digital slang and social media they use. Here are some key things to be aware of.

Fun, Harmless Teen Slang

There are times when a teen or tween is just trying to fit in by using slang. Normally, this slang is relatively harmless and shouldn’t be cause for concern.

Examples include:
Bruh – a minor nickname for bro
Fam – meaning your closest friends, not your immediate family
GOAT – often used in sports as greatest of all time
TBH – to be honest
It’s lit – cool, awesome
Savage – another way to say cool
Woke – being aware of social issues

Red-flag Slang

Teenagers use a whole myriad of slang for nudity, sex, mayhem, alcohol, and drugs.

Be on the lookout for these:
Lean – an intoxicating drink made of soda and cough syrup
Tweaking – being high on something like marijuana or amphetamines
Turnt up – getting drunk and high to the maximum
Hit a lick – stealing something
Skurt – go away or leave
Bae – baby
Boujee – rich or acting rich
OC – open crib, parents are away or not in house
NIFOC – naked in front of the computer
GNOC – get naked on camera
CU46 – see you for sex
53X – sex
Smash – hook up, have sex
CD9 – code 9, parents around

When it comes to red-flag slang, context matters. Case in point: the word “juice,” which could mean an alcoholic drink. But some teens also use “juice” to mean credibility or respect.

Stay up to date with teen slang by referencing Urban Dictionary.

Popular Social Media Sites for Teens

There are lots of new social media apps that teens are using more and more. Today, the most popular social media platforms aren’t what you’d typically think of like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Teens are flocking to apps including Snapchat, KIK, LiveMe, Yubo, and many others. Why? Because you’re probably not there on those apps to monitor their every post and story.

Many of these social media platforms are self-destructing, which makes monitoring even more difficult. Snapchat messages disappear after 24 hours. This can make it extremely hard for law enforcement to investigate criminal behavior. Instagram and Facebook have followed Snapchat’s lead with Stories that disappear after 24 hours, with an option for Stories to be shown only to a select group of people.

Confession and Hook-up Sites for Teens

Beyond Tinder and Bumble, there are other popular sites where teens can either confess something or hook up with someone in real life (IRL). PostSecret, Whisper, and an adults-only dating app called Badoo are popular with teens. With lackluster monitoring of abusive and unsafe content, parents need to be extra vigilant if their teens are using any of these sites.

For adults-only sites, teenagers can easily lie about their age to gain access if there’s no verification process. With strangers—both adults and teens—looking to make connections on these sites, it’s easy for predators to run rampant on these platforms.

Teen Influencers

Like athletes who endorse companies and certain lifestyles, there are teenage social media stars called influencers who do the same thing—and make quite a living doing so.

Pay close attention to the influencers your child is following. Who do they often talk about? Do a quick search to find out who these people are and what they’re advocating. The last thing you want is an influencer on YouTube or Instagram pushing your teen into unhealthy, dangerous behavior.

Bottom Line

It’s clear that the landscape of teenage communication is changing really fast. What to do?

Start with Hub by Securly, which lets you manage your family’s devices, set rules, block inappropriate content, and get notifications of concerning content about cyberbullying, self-harm, drugs, and other activities. Your teens still get to use their devices and you get peace of mind knowing you’re doing everything you can to keep your teens safe online.

And don’t forget to brush up on your teenage digital slang from time to time. Check back on our blog for updates on these ever-changing trends among teens.

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