January 20, 2022

Keeping your kids safe online

Do you know what your kids are up to online? Of course you do! You?ve blocked all the porn sites, set up filters, and even have a monitoring program to let you know if your kids are talking about sex, or porn, or meeting up ?uncle bob? from the chat room. You?re a smart parent, but you?re still probably clueless.

There?s a new trend popular among teenage chatters, and your filters won?t pick up any of it. It?s called l33tspeak, netspeak or just plain slang (leet speak from the word elite). You know what I?m talking about. Acronyms like lol wtf bbiab and nm. Using single letter words: U replaces you, R replaces are, o replaces oh, m replaces am etc?

Less popular, but still widely used (especially in games) is true l33tspeak, which involves using numbers instead of letters. 4 replaces A, 3 replaces E, 7 replaces T 1 replaces L, and $ replaces S. These are just a few examples, some of it is worse like /\/ and /\/\ , or 13 instead of B.

Today?s kids are taking their creativity to the internet, and it?s affecting the way they speak. So bad in fact, that school teachers have even reported seeing ?lol? (laughing out loud) turn up on hand-written papers. (How would you pronounce that?)

Many kids as old as 17 don?t know the difference between homonyms such as there, their, and they?re. Hell, there aren?t too many 17 year olds left who can even spell h-o-m-o-n-y-m anymore, and no it isn?t spelled with an i.

If you?re concerned about your kids, it?s absolutely crucial you learn to understand their language. Your filters may pick up porn, but do they catch the word ?pron??

Another key phrase is the word PAW, short for ?parents are watching?. Can you think of a non-naughty use for that sentence? I can?t.

Sure you blocked porn sites, but what about Google image search? Any teenager can tell you that online image searches are the best free porn sites ever.

So what can you do? Talk to your kids. Get your own copy of AOL Instant Messenger and put their names on your buddy list. Read their profiles, you?ll be surprised what you find in there.

Need to find out what they?re up to? Try typing their screen name, email address, name, or cell phone number into Google and see what pops up. I guarantee you?ll find your son or daughter?s picture, email address, and tons of should be private information about them listed on sites like hotornot.com, buddypic.com, facebattle.com, facethejury.com, or facebook.com

Does your son or daughter have a livejournal or a blog? If so do you read it? You probably should. There?s nothing wrong with reading their diary if they?re posting it on the internet. Thousands of other people probably are.

For the concerned parent, Microsoft offers a Guide to L33tSpeak on their website, and noslang.com offers a free Internet slang dictionary and translator where you can brush up on your slang, or translate your son / daughter?s live journal.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com