If You’re Worried About Internet Acronyms, You’re Already Behind

The UK Department of Education released a parents’ guide to internet acronyms this week, and the press has rushed to cover it as if it will solve all the problems of unsafe and inappropriate youth internet activity once and for all. That’s not the way digital parenting works. A few of the headlines:

Social media teen terms decoded for concerned parents 

Teen chat 101: Fearful parents given guide to kid’s online language

QUIZ: Do you know your LOLs from your GNOCs?

“Social media decoding dictionary launched for concerned parents”

Chat guide to help Parents keep Children safe on the Internet

Sure, there are times when it will be helpful for a parent to know the meaning of an acronym that she happens to see one of her kids using, but by that time the game may be over.

For example, the guide helpfully points out that GNOC stands for “get naked on camera”. If your teen or tween is online discussing getting naked on a webcam, you probably missed an opportunity a couple of years ago to have a discussion about what is appropriate for young internet users, the risks of transmitting explicit selfies, and the importance of knowing exactly who is on the other end of your internet connection. And this might not be the first time it’s happening.

The key is to talk to your kids before inappropriate activity is even on their radar screen. We understand that this might be difficult, because you could end up discussing activities your kids aren’t contemplating, and therefore might be giving them ideas. No one said this would be easy.

Our recommendation is that these talks need to begin in earnest, and frequently, before your child has unsupervised internet access or owns his own smartphone.

This analogy has been used before but it’s true: you can build a fence around your home swimming pool (maybe you have to), or you can teach your child to swim. We recommend the swimming lessons.




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