This is a little scary. I do think it's a good idea for parents to take a look at these teen text shorthands. I had no idea what they meant and I bet a lot of you don't either. Here's part of a CNN article that decodes a few slang texts and gives links to websites that can help you decode. Yikes!
Do you know what this means: %*@:-( ?
Or this: ~~#ZZZZZZ ?
If the answers are no, you're not a teenager who uses alcohol or drugs.
'Boy am I old'
Six years ago, Ryan Jones didn't know what the above terms meant either -- but that was before he became an expert in the shorthand teens use to communicate about their illicit activities.
It all began in 2004, when Jones, a software engineer, received some odd instant messages at work, using terms such as "idk" and "lyk." It was all Greek to Jones.
Jones, a computer programmer in Allen Park, Michigan, quickly realized the messages weren't from his boss -- they were from his boss' children who were hanging out at the office with their father for the day. As a joke, they'd gone into their dad's AOL account and sent silly, innocent instant messages to everyone in the office, and none of the adults could understand the shortcuts and slang.
He later learned "idk" means "I don't know" and "lyk" means "like."
"It was a real 'boy am I old' moment," Jones remembers. "But then it occurred to me the slang was actually really creative and saved time and keystrokes. I was talking to some of the other programmers, and we thought it would be a cool idea to start a website that had translations of the slang that kids use."
Jones created noslang.com in 2005, and as more readers have submitted terms related to drugs and sex, what started out as a fun little lexicon of innocuous shortcuts has become a valuable educational tool for parents to learn about what their children are up to.
Groups such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Parents. The Anti-Drug, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Office of National Drug Control Policy have lists of street terms and slang, including those specific to drug or sexual activity.
Once you get the hang of the language, you can try your hand at translating a real message found by Susan Shankle and Barbara Melton, co-authors of the book "What in the World Are Your Kids Doing Online?"
The message reads:
"1 w45 50 j4ck3d up |457 n16h7. 1 5c0r3d 50m3 cr4ck 47 7h3 p4r7y 50 1'd h4v3 17 f0r 70n16h7 4nd 70m0rr0w, 4nd 7h3n J1mmy 700k 0ff w17h 17, 7h3 455h0|3! 1 4m 4|| j1773ry 4nd n33d 70 m337 up w17h y0u 70n16h7 4f73r my p4r3n75 7h1nk 1 4m 45|33p. c4n y0u m337 m3 47 b0j4n6|3'5 47 m1dn16h7 ju57 f0r 4 f3w m1nu735? 1 ju57 n33d 4 |177|3 4nd 1 c4n p4y y0u b4ck 0n m0nd4y, 1 pr0m153."
"I was so jacked up last night. I scored some crack at the party so I'd have it for tonight and tomorrow, and then Jimmy took off with it, the [expletive]! I am all jittery and need to meet up with you tonight after my parents think i am asleep. Can you meet me at Bojangle's at midnight just for a few minutes? I just need a little and I can pay you back on Monday, I promise."-NewsAnchorMom Jen