With technology’s constant increase in accessibility, teenagers are more and more exposed to the online world around them, and their way of communicating with one another is rapidly evolving. 

When teens talk and text online, it may be hard to understand what they’re saying, and it may seem like an entirely different language. As a parent, it’s important that you learn these different terms and slang not only to stay in the know but also to keep your kids safe from potential danger online. 

The TBH meaning and other teen slang words may cause a headache for parents who are not familiar. This guide will provide you with what these terms mean and how they’re used. Most importantly, you’ll also learn tips to keep your kids safe.

Table of Contents:

Internet Slang You Should Know: The Good and Bad  

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Even though TBH may be on it’s way out, there are other trendy slang terms that are becoming popular amongst teens. Here are some popular slang words being used today and their meanings: 

  • Bae: “Before anyone else.” Used as a term of endearment for a significant other or crush.
  • Bet: Can be used instead of “yes” or “ok”, or as a response to a challenge, like “we’ll see” or “watch me”.
  • Cap/No cap: “Cap” means to lie whereas “no cap” means to be truthful. 
  • Extra: Unnecessarily over the top and dramatic.
  • Fire: Really cool or amazing.
  • Flex: To flaunt, like knowingly flaunting your status. 
  • FOMO: Fear of missing out.
  • Ghost: To purposely ignore someone.
  • Gucci: When something is cool or good. 
  • JBH: Just being honest.
  • Lit: Word to describe when something is high-energy, super fun, and exciting. Can also mean drunk or high.
  • Salty: This means that you are bitter or mad towards something or someone.
  • Shade: Generally means that someone’s actions are sneaky or unsavory, like “throwing shade.”
  • Ship: Short for relationship.
  • Slay: To be good at something or succeed.
  • Snatched: Word that refers to someone who is fashionable or looks really good. 
  • Tea: Alternative phrase for gossip.

Red Flag Slang Terms to Watch Out For

Most online slang that teens use these days is harmless, but there are still a few bad apples floating around that you should be aware of. In high-risk situations online, teens may use slang to hide their mischievous or even dangerous behavior. Here are some red flag slang terms that are trending and that you should watch out for: 

  • Addy: Short for Adderall, a medication that is used recreationally that is normally intended to treat ADHD. 
  • ASLP: Acronym for age, sex, location, picture; often used by online predators.
  • Break green or 420: This means to share marijuana with your friends or code for marijuana.
  • Catfishing: Using a fake social profile to pretend to be someone else.
  • Cook session: When a group of people gangs up on someone via social media. 
  • CU46: See you for sex.
  • Down in the DM: Usually meant to share or ask for nude photos through private messages on apps or to find a hookup. 
  • FWB: Friends with benefits.
  • GNOC: Get naked on camera.
  • KMS: Kill myself.
  • KYS: Kill yourself.
  • Netflix and chill: A euphemism for a casual hookup; to meet under the pretense of watching TV together but actually just meeting for a hookup.
  • NP4NP: Naked picture for naked picture.
  • NSFW: Not safe for work.
  • POS: Parent over shoulder.
  • Ratchet: Usually describes someone as nasty, ugly, or awful.
  • #selfharmmm: This is a trending hashtag used on social media to identify or even glorify self-harming habits, such as cutting.
  • Sugarpic: Erotic or suggestive picture.
  • Thirsty: To be desperate for something.
  • Xan/Xans/Xanny: Short for Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety that is often used recreationally with young adults. 
  • 53x: Sex.
  • 9: Code for “a parent is watching”.
  • 99: Code for “parents are gone”.

Origins of Online Slang

If you grew up in the ‘70s, you have probably used the term or phrase “groovy” or “let’s blow this taco stand.” Or in the ‘80s, perhaps you said “bogus” or “gag me with a spoon.” However, with the rise of the internet in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, internet slang has become the new norm. 

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The origins of online slang are closely related to text message culture, social networking sites, gaming, and online chats or forums. Among the most popular terms to arise from this era is “TBH,” meaning “to be honest.” 

According to Google Trends, the first Urban Dictionary entry for TBH was added in the early 2000s and the term quickly became popular by 2011. This term is normally used at the end or beginning of a sentence to channel a feeling of frankness, or expressing honestly how you feel about a person or thing. If someone wants to be candid about an opinion, they could say “TBH, I hate going to the mall.”

Unfortunately, TBH can also be used as a way to insult someone, or in contrast, to give them a compliment.  For example, you can say something positive to someone like “TBH, you’re a kind and sincere person” or insult them by saying “TBH, I hate your taste in fashion.”

Slang has been around for many years and each generation has its own style that sets it apart from others. However, moving this language into the digital space can create more opportunities for your kids to be put in more danger.

The Problem With Online Slang

The rise in online slang has also created opportunities for teens to be exposed to cyberbullying and other online dangers on the internet. Language changes online so quickly that it’s making it hard for us to keep up. Understanding and connecting with your children is important in order to keep them from getting into danger online, whether it’s from bullies or online predators. 

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a widespread problem among teens (33 percent of youth across the globe experience bullying online), and online slang could be contributing to the problem. Examples of cyberbullying include demeaning behavior, harassment, threats, and embarrassing remarks towards another using an online platform. 

online-slang-and-cyberbullying

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 31 percent of young adults have reported that their peers have misunderstood their social media posts or texts. Additionally, 38 percent of people experience cyberbullying on social platforms daily. Many teens use hateful and mean online slang terms, and unfortunately young adults who experience this type of behavior are twice as likely to self-harm and execute suicidal behavior. 

Online Predators

Online predators also aren’t strangers to the internet when it comes to targeting teens. Predators such as drug dealers and pedophiles have found a way to adopt online lingo that teens are using today as a way to communicate and relate with them. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, one in five youth between the ages of nine and 17 will see unwanted sexual content material online and one in nine teens will receive unwanted online solicitations.

the-threat-of-an-online-predator

Many online predators can use internet slang to communicate with your teen, so it’s important to be aware of the other internet slang terms that are being used today. 

Helpful Tips for Parents

Knowing that there’s potentially dangerous online language and that your teen could be hiding their activity may cause some concern. However, there are some helpful tips to know that will allow your kids to stay safe on the internet and keep your mind at ease: 

online-safety-tips

  • Monitor devices: Conduct random spot checks on your child’s devices, the family PC, social media, and instant messaging services.
  • Discuss sexting: Make sure to talk with your teens about the dangers of sexting and its legal ramifications.
  • Teach them: Don’t assume your kids know all about tech — teach them proper skills, tools, and responsibilities if they run into trouble on the internet. This includes being proactive about letting their friends know what is and isn’t okay and being open to discussing problems that arise on the internet.
  • Talk about online strangers: Stranger danger applies on the internet, too. Discuss the emotional and physical danger of communicating with someone you don’t know online, whether it’s instant messaging, talking on the phone, or sending pictures or other information.
  • Set up parental controls: Avoid any potential danger by setting up parental controls on your shared devices. These parental controls allow you to gain mobile device and app control by being able to block or set time limits on internet usage.
  • Limit screen time: Limiting the amount of time your teen spends on their devices allows for less risk, and more time spent on doing homework, spending time with family, and getting a good night’s sleep. It also means less online time with which to get curious and start digging through the internet.
  • Have conversations about cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is common in today’s online world, and it’s important to discuss how to deal with online threats and bullies and how to block or report them.
  • Impose consequences: If your teen is the one causing mischief online, be sure to enforce consequences for their actions. This can be things like taking away their devices until they’re aware of how to use them responsibly.

Changes in the way we speak on the internet happen quickly and keeping up as a parent is important. Here are some tips on how to stay on top of these trends and ever-changing terminology:

online-slang-terms

1. Bookmark online dictionaries: 

Online dictionaries are your best friend when it comes to deciphering popular internet slang. Consider bookmarking popular sites such as Urban Dictionary or Wiktionary. Urban Thesaurus is also a great tool for looking up phrases instead of just words. 

2. Set Google alerts: 

Set these alerts in Google for terms or slang of your choice. By setting up these alerts, you can receive notifications about news items that are related to the terms you’ve set an alert for. You can also set alerts that notify you about new apps, sites, trending hashtags, and more. Using Google alerts can better help you stay in the know and up to date with current internet information and trends. 

3. Talk to the community:

Opening up lines of communication with school teachers and other parents can help everyone stay connected and informed on any kind of slang or terminology trends that kids may be using. 

4. Talk to your kids: 

Not sure what something means? Just ask your kids! There’s a good chance that they’ll know — don’t be afraid of sounding uncool. 

tbh-meaning-parents-guide-to-online-slang

In a world taken over by meme culture and trendy social media platforms, your understanding of the TBH meaning and basic online slang can make or break your status as a “cool” parent. Additionally, knowing the red flags to watch out for can help keep your kids safe as they navigate the internet. Be sure to also use antivirus software as an additional layer of protection to defend against viruses on your home network.