Friday, August 27, 2010

Marchman Act Blog: Parents, do you know what these texts mean?

(CNN) -- 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.  View Text Examples...

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