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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Take the time to learn slang kids are using on the Internet

By Kim Komando

If you think ASL is an acronym for American Sign Language, you're only partly correct. It also means age, sex, location in Internet speak. Your child probably already knows this. You should, too.

Kids use shorthand when chatting online. Some abbreviations are innocent enough, such as those in the following list:

BRB be right back.

BTW by the way.

GTG got to go.

IMHO in my humble opinion.

LOL laughing out loud.

OMG oh my God.

OTOH on the other hand.

WB welcome back.

If you walk into the room while your child is chatting and see POS or P911, it means parent over the shoulder. Fortunately, there is assistance online to help decipher kids' lingo.

Urban Dictionary (www .urbandictionary.com) is an online compilation of slang. The words and definitions are contributed by the public, mostly kids. And some of the terminology is offensive. But get used to it. Your kids probably use it, or at least understand it.

For more abbreviations, check Jupiter Parents (www .jupiterparents.com/children /safety/safety12.shtml) and Sharpened Glossary (www .sharpened.net/glossary/acronyms.php). Or use the translators at No Slang (www.noslang .com/index.php) and Teen Angels (www.teenangels.org).

To add to the confusion, kids also use what's called leet, or leetspeak when chatting. Leet is short for "elite" and originated with hackers. It is now found in mainstream online correspondence.

Leet substitutes numbers and symbols for letters. For example, leet could be written as !337 or 1337.

Some common leet words:

d00d dude.

joo, j00 and u you.

kewl cool.

n00b, noob, newbie or newb new user, new person.

pr0n pornography.

There is no official way of writing in leet, so translation can be tricky.

When viewing your kid's chat sessions, it may be difficult to know if the other party is another kid or an adult trolling for kids. A great way to avoid strangers is by restricting messaging to friends. The most commonly used messaging programs provide features that can block messages from everyone but those in the buddy list.

Here are quick instructions for some popular programs:

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM): Click My AIM, then Edit Options, Edit Preferences. Select the Privacy tab. Under "Who can contact me," select "Allow only users on my Buddy List."

Yahoo Messenger: Click Messenger, then Preferences. Under Category, select Ignore List. Then select "Ignore anyone who is not on my Messenger List." Then click OK. Make sure that only friends are in your child's list of contacts.

MSN Messenger: Click Tools, then Options. Select Privacy from the menu. Under "Allow and block lists," mark the checkbox labeled "Only people on my Allow List can see my status and send me messages." Then click OK. Of course, make sure that your child's friends are included on the contact list.

Contact Kim Komando at gnstech@gns.gannett.com.