Thousands of parents don’t understand internet slang

A new online poll from BT has found that many parents don’t understand the slang words, acronyms and phrases that their kids may be using online. The poll was conducted for Internet Safety Day 2017, which aims to promote safer practices online.

BT surveyed more than 4,500 adults in the UK to see if they understood some modern, and aging, internet slang. The results showed that a full 85% couldn't correctly identify some of the lingo.

For example, 65% of parents thought the acronym KMS meant 'keep my secret', when it really means 'kill myself' - usually used in jest, rather than a literal suicide threat. Similarly, the majority didn't know that '99' means 'parents have stopped watching' and just 4% knew that MIA was a reference to bulimia.

Emoji also caused problems. For example, more than half of respondents didn't know that the monkey with paws over the mouth could mean 'I won't tell anyone'.

The oldies did, at least, do better with some of the older slang. More than half of parents knew that '182' means 'I hate you', 'WTTP' means 'want to trade pictures?' and 'LMIRL' is 'let's meet in real life'.

The quiz was run to promote awareness of Internet Safety Day, and online safety in general. Pete Oliver, the managing director of commercial, marketing and digital at BT said:

""For young people growing up with technology, this new language comes naturally, but it's leaving some adults unsure about what is being said by their children online. As we mark Safer Internet Day 2017, we think it's important for adults to speak to young people about how they use social media and chat online."

Carolyn Bunting, the general manager of charity Internet Matters added: "Children's use of the internet is developing at a rapid pace. While it is unrealistic to expect parents to understand every piece of internet slang their children will ever see, online safety starts with a conversation.

"It's vital for parents to talk to their kids about their digital worlds, including the sorts of things they might experience online, and the types of issues to be aware of, from cyberbullying to privacy."

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