November 24, 2008
Mother of two Danielle Cutler remembers her childhood. "I played dolls. I played in the yard and in the tree house."
But it's a different world for her son Koel. The seventh grader plays with a new breed of toys: a laptop and cell phone.
"Twelve-year-olds are not kids anymore," Cutler said. "It seems like they are dealing with adult situations."
But Cutler doesn't turn a blind eye. She asks questions, keeps up with his Myspace account and the messages on his phone.
However, Koel commented, "She doesn't know everything - everything people send me."
Chances are you don't know either.
CD9, GNOC, NIFOC, NOOB, P911, TDTM: Do you know what these mean?
It's just some of the new slang kids use every day on the internet and cell phones. It goes beyond LOL (laugh out loud) or POS (parent over shoulder).
- GNOC - Get naked on cam.
- TDTM - Talk dirty to me.
- PRON - Porn.
It's adult language kids have developed as they play with adult toys. The problem is that even if your children aren't using the language, chances are someone they are texting or talking to in cyberspace is.
With camera phones and webcams, they're taking pictures of themselves too, and those pictures are reaching the masses.
"My friend got a picture," Koel said. "He forwarded it to everybody of the girl and stuff."
It's a problem schools are meeting head on.
Blackwater Middle School Principle Dr. Cindy Thibodeau says they have to think about it because the messages and pictures are following children into the classroom.
"We always have to be aware," Thibodeau said. "These are middle school children. They are immature, impulsive and in a period in their life of experimentation."
While staffmembers keep their eyes peeled, Thibodeau says her best defense is the students.
"What we have is a network of children that trust us, and if things are going on they will come and let us know," she said. "They are our greatest source."
While Thibodeau tries to keep on top of the technology, the list of internet slang WMBF News showed her made her jaw drop.
"This would be very concerning," Thibodeau commented. "Very."
It's a list she says she'll share with her staff and the PTO, hoping to keep everyone informed, and hoping to protect her kids from themselves.
She says parents also need to talk to their kids about the dangers and consequences of this kind of technology just like they'd talk about sex, drinking, drugs or smoking.
"They need to be very honest with their children," Thibodeau noted. "I would say the conversation needs to start before they come to middle school and sixth grade. We have a lot of elementary age children who have cell phones and computers."
At the Cutler house, Koel remains loyal to his favorite modes of communication. His mom says she still has a whole lot to learn, and she'll be studying that internet slang list.
"I had no idea that existed," she said. "That's really great info for parents. How would we know? I think there are a lot of parents who just believe what their kids say."
That is something the Cutler's know could be very dangerous.