IM acronyms are a sort of shorthand that people use in instant messaging, whether it be via their cell phone, chat room, or whatever. It’s a way of saying something fast, in what amounts to be a coded language. The world of instant messaging is, in fact, an instant oneâ€”people talk fast, they talk about everything, and they do so in a way that an outside observer might feel a little confused as to what’s going on exactly.
Therefore, it’s important for parents to familiarize themselves with this world. Not only should they know what sort of chat rooms (for example) their children are frequenting, they should have at least a pretty good idea of what, exactly, is being discussed. The Internet is an increasingly dangerous place for young people. Recent television shows have shown that sexual predators are on the rise, and that one of their favorite tools for finding victims is the Internet. They meet some young person in a chat room, gain their trust, and set up a meeting.
It would be a mistake, however, for parents to snort of sneak around and spy over their child’s shoulder, as it were, rather than talking to their child face to face about what concerns them. Chances are a parent’s concerns are not entirely unfamiliar to the child. He or she is aware of the dangers of the Internet, and most likely wants to avoid them. A face-to-face conversation with a child is a much better approach than sneaking around behind the child’s back. That said,here are a few common IM acronyms that every parent should be aware of.
1.a/s/l or asl. This acronym means Age/Sex/Location. If someone is asking your child this, it is time to talk to them about sites they are visiting and information they are sharing. These are obviously pretty intimate details to be giving out over the Internet, especially if one’s giving them to a stranger. A parent should always be aware of the kind of information their child’s giving to potential strangers in a chat room. Remember, they’re not just describing themselves here, insofar as their sex and age goesâ€”they’re also telling this mysterious person where exactly they are.
2.D/L, DL, or d/l. Each of these IM acronyms stands for “I’m downloading” something. Now, the thing your child’s downloading could be perfectly harmless, of courseâ€”a clip from their favorite cartoon or comedy show, for example. But it’s just as likely that they’re being sent something inappropriate for children. You should always be aware of just exactly what it is your child is downloading. Ask, open the download yourself, or prohibit al downloading.
3.F2F. This IM acronym should raise a red flag whenever a parent sees it. It stands for Face to Face, and usually implies that the child is setting up a face-to-face meeting with someone. You do not say this to someone you know, or people you see regularly. Again, it could be a face-to-face meeting with a friend. But it seems a strange way to go about meeting face-to-face with a friend. Chances are your child is setting up a face-to-face meeting with a face they’ve never seen before. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon you, the parent, to learn exactly whom this “face” belongs to.
4.OM. This IM acronym simply means Old Man, and can mean one of two things: (1) you child is simply talking about his or her father, and (2) your child is warning whoever it is their chatting with that their father is in the room.
5.OL. This IM acronym means Old Lady, and has the same meaning(s) as above.
6.POS. This stands for Parents Over Shoulder.
The Internet can be a wonderful tool, or it can be a terrible tool. Don’t make your children suspicious that you’re suspicious; don’t make them feel as though they’ve got to hide their Internet activity from you. It’s far better to simply sit down and talk with them, heart to heart, about your concerns as well as their concerns. Build a relationship of trust with them, and they’ll most likely not do anything dangerous behind your back.