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Teen Texting Panic: It’s Back, Baby!

Photo: Richard Baker/Corbis via Getty Images

Is your child texting? Probably! It’s 2018 and children are now practically born with a cell phone in their hand. Do you know what your children are talking about, though? Probably not! That’s very scary. For decades now, parents have been trying to crack the arcane teen lingo that they use to hide their nefarious missives from decrepit seniors (anyone over 30). LOL, SMH, ROFLMAO, OMGWTFBBQ. In the absence of a Rosetta Stone for the digital age, social-media users have helpfully begun crowdsourcing glossaries in order to spread the knowledge far and wide.

Know the signs; talk to your kids about texting before they start.

Parody texting glossaries, if Google Trends records are to be believed, peaked at the end of last month, but their rise, and fall, over the last 90 days has been erratic, with many spikes.

Part of that probably has to do with the fact that joke texting acronyms are a moral panic as old as instant messaging and cell phones themselves. Local news broadcasts across America warned parents of acronyms like PIR (“parent in room,” from back when you had to IM on a computer and couldn’t just tuck your phone away), GNOC (“get naked on camera”), and CU46 (“see you for sex”) — all of them needlessly complicated acronyms that have seemingly never been deployed in real life. Still, as long as people are sending texts, there will be panicked parents, and a local-news cycle in need of filler.

One of the most famous teen-text glossaries.
An edited newscast from Reddit.

Ridiculing this panic has been a long-running online pastime, cropping up every few months with a slightly tweaked image template or framing, but the joke is always the same — parents are dumb.

Teen Texting Panic: It’s Back, Baby!