Decoding what your teen is texting - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/23/09

Decoding what your teen is texting

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Parents who try to figure out what a teen is texting, may end up feeling like their trying to decipher Morse code. So we took the challenge to find out what teens are saying when they're not even talking.

Try to find a teen who isn't texting, and you may find yourself searching in another country. "I'm always texting. Constantly - every five minutes at least," admits Frenship sophomore Chelsea Battaglia. 

Chelsea is not alone. According to Neilsen Mobile, teens text 7.5 times more often than they call. "All my friends, everyone that has a phone has texting - they probably text just as much as me, if not more."

"(She texts) about 14 to 16 hours a day," Chelsea's mother Sherrie jokingly says, but she adds that her 16-year-old daughter really does send about 10,000 to 12,000 text messages a month.

"I think texting is a great form of communications in terms of the present day technology," says Pediatric Psychotherapist Dr. Paul Douthit at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Douthit suggests that if parents want to bridge the gap between themselves and their teens, then they have to familiarize themselves with what their children already mastered. "Understand what technology is out there and what their kids are involved in, and it's vital that you know to what degree your kids use technology."

Parents should also learn their children's texting codes. "Teenagers developing a different language so that they can talk around their parents, so that they can somehow be more secretive, has been around forever and day. It's nothing new and it continues," says Dr. Douthit.

"If their parents saw some of the things they texted they would probably get in trouble," Chelsea says. Sherrie says she knows a few of the codes words, but not all, "POS is ‘parent over shoulder'."

MOS is ‘mom over shoulder'; CD9 is ‘code 9' for unwanted parent or teacher. "They'll cuss over text and usually parents don't like that," Chelsea says.

There are other codes that would shock parents. For instance, the number 420 and A3 is a reference to ‘getting together to get high at any place, anywhere, anytime'.

But there are codes that have multiple meanings. One being innocent, the other being potentially dangerous: Like PABG. That can mean ‘packing a big gun' which could be a threat of a weapon or it could simply be a phrase used while playing a video game.

Chelsea says most of the text codes she receives are pretty simple, "My friend, she uses LOL and K." K is shorthand for OK, and LOL means ‘laughing out loud'. The code for ‘be right back' is BRB and SLAP is ‘sounds like a plan'.

But when it comes to teens and texting, Dr. Douthit says to keep the communication open, "Trust them, at the same time, you know - I think parents need to appreciate that to some degree we have to monitor our kids as they grow up."

"It's kind of my own thoughts, and I don't want her to see all of it," Chelsea says when it comes to her mom reading her texts. Sherrie agrees, "It's like a diary. It's their diary. It is their personal thoughts, and maybe they just want that person that they are sending it to know and not anybody else. So, I don't think those should ever be snooped on or anything by reading their texts. I think you should have a relationship where they can tell you anything, and if you don't - maybe you need to work on that part."

Decoding Texting Teens Quiz
Take our online quiz to test your ability to decipher popular acronyms used by texting teens every day.

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