First of all, let’s look at some of the more common IM acronyms that should cause concern:
P911, or, My parents are in the room.
Now, this acronym has two parts. “P” for parents and “911” for we better talk about something else. Parents should know this acronym because it usually implies that the users are discussing something they don’t want their parents to know.
OM, or, My old man.
This acronym could either simply be a short hand way of referencing the chatter’s father, or it could mean something closer to the above — my dad’s in the room, let’s quit the porn talk. Anytime a chatter throws up a red flag because of an adult’s presence, the adult should throw one up too.
OL, or, My old lady.
Same as above.
FUD, or, Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
Such emotions are common to a lot of young people today. They desire approval, are uncertain about abilities, and doubt themselves. Still, though, it’s best for parents to be aware that their child is experiencing them, and perhaps at an unusual level of intensity. Most kids do not say they fear these unless the fear is strong.
F2F, or, Face to Face.
This acronym should definitely raise red flags for any parent that sees it pop up. Recent television programs have documented the shocking rise of Internet predators seeking to have sexual experiences with underage boys and girls. When (or if) your son or daughter begins talking about face to face meetings with someone, it behooves you to know exactly who that someone is, when and where the proposed meeting will take place, and why.
These are just a few, but common, acronyms used by young people on the Internet today. There are many more, and it’s very easy to look them up and commit them to memory. Now, you don’t want your children to feel as though you’re heavily breathing over their shoulder as they talk with their friends, make new ones, and enjoy these new methods of instant communication. Therefore, an open policy of trust is the best way to go about it. It’s best to sit down with your children and express you concerns and have a frank discussion of the dangers that children face on the Internet today. That way, your children don’t have to be afraid to come to you if they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.
Some parents feel as though it’s within their rights to sort of monitor what they’re children are doing on the Internet, as most chats (for example) can be saved and reread later. In some extreme situations, this hardnosed policy may be the right one to implement; but let us insist again that the less often you have to go behind your children’s backs to get an inside view of their private lives, the less likely they’ll be to try to hide things from you or even begin to hate you. Open, honest, frank communication is always the best route to take; and another good route to take is the setting down of rules when it comes to things like spending times in chat rooms and so forth. You’re the parent! You pay the bills! You still make the rules about what goes on in your home.
Then again, you don’t want to come across as a tyrant; you want to be friends with your children. Therefore, perhaps it would be wise to work out a system with them. Ask for their input, their advice, their feelings on how much time they’d like to spend unwinding on the Internet, and then try to find some sort of compromise that’s based, again, on openness between you. Teach your children that you want to trust them, and that the more you trust them the more freedoms they’ll have and the less interference from you.