Learn the Lingo: A parent’s cheat sheet for social media slang and acronyms in 2018

tweens on phones - social media slang

Warning: In order to keep our children safe, we need to be aware of sexual terms and innuendos within the latest slang and lingo. This article contains reference to those of a sexual nature.

Social Media Slang

A rite of passage for all pre-teens and teenagers, when the words they use are “lit” and anything their parents use is outdated and uncool. “Cool” … do the kids even say that anymore?

While listening to your child’s slang might make you feel a little on the outs, rest assured, it can actually be good for them to embrace language in this way.

With most communication happening through devices or via messaging, abbreviations and emoticons can add a breadth of emotion and context in an instant, allowing open communication with friends. Slang also helps pre-teens and teens to define themselves through a sense of connection with their friends. They feel accepted with their peers and begin to grow in their independence.

Our role as parents is to guide children through this phase, stepping back to allow their independence, whilst remaining aware of the types of conversations they may be having. Yes, slang can keep parents in the dark, but a simple google can ease your fears or allow you to gain knowledge about what your child is really talking about.

To help you keep your kids safe, we’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used internet slang on Reddit, Messenger, Snapchat and Instagram. Some lingo is harmless and funny while at other times it can be a major red-flag that it’s time for you to step in. Again, please be aware before continuing that this article contains sexual terms.

Light-hearted Social Media Slang

Don’t worry about these ones too much, this is simply kids being kids, (sometimes using the equivalent of adult language – keeping in mind we’ve written this list to cover teens as well). Of course there are a number of these that I would NOT be comfortable having my own pre-teens using and would be putting a stop to. You know what language you are comfortable with your child using, whether it be in real life or online.

Lit – Cool “That party was lit”

LOL – Laugh out loud

LMAO – Laughing my a*s off

ILY – I love you

ILYSM – I love you so much

TY – Thank you

TB – Throw back

TBT – Throw back Thursday

OML – Oh my Lord

OMG – Oh my God

RN – Right now

NP – No problem

WUD/WYD – What you doing?

WYA – Where you at?

HBU – How (a)bout you?

IMO – In my opinion

AMA – Ask me anything

IKR – I know, right?

RLLY – Really

SMH – Shake my head (disbelief)

SMDH – Shake my damn head

Savage  – A person speaking or acting bluntly

Basic – Someone or something ordinary

Fam – Family, a good friend “We fam”

Woke – Aware of issues “That boy woke”

WTH – What the hell

WTF – What the f*ck

AF – As f*ck, meaning very or greatly

FFS – For f*cks sake

STG – Swear to God

MIRL – Me in real life

IDK – I don’t know

IDC – I don’t care

girl on phone sitting on her bed

Slang to be Aware of

Heads up: These ones can be a red-flag (take note of the emoticons too)

TBH – To be honest often used as an invitation to ask/tell their peers what they think of them “like my photo for a tbh” but the response will only be a compliment “tbh you’re so pretty” “you’re funny”. Often done to get more likes or to obtain a confidence boost so can be a warning of your child feeling insecure or wanting attention.

MOS/POS – Mum/parent over shoulder

FML – F*ck my life

HMU – Hit me up (phone number, get in contact)

DMs – Direct messages

Slide into DMs – Sending private messages

Netflix and chill – to have sex “we’re just going to watch Netflix and chill”

Shade – Putting someone down “throwing shade”

Thirsty – Having a strong desire for something or someone

THOT – That whore (hoe) over there / thirsty hoes over there

TDTM – Talk dirty to me

NSFW – Not safe for work, illicit   


Emojis: Ok time to uncover your eyes. These ones get a bit NSFW

Smirk face ?

This one is used as a flirting face.

Peach ?

Often used as a reference to a bottom.

Tongue ?

This symbol is frequently used to refer to oral sex.

Tulip ?

Refers to female genitalia or a vagina. Can also indicate ‘virginity’ in some contexts.

Eggplant ?

Male genitals or penis. A survey conducted said the majority of 18-24 yr olds saw the eggplant as a sexual reference, not a vegetable.

Water / sweat drops ?

This symbol can be interpreted as an orgasm or male ejaculation.


Now we’ve gone through the major social media slang and lingo used in 2018, including some pretty strong content, which we’ve added more as a warning, not as an assumption your teens will be using them. It’s important to feel empowered by this list and not frightened. Yes, modern technology allows children and teens access to a private array of conversations, but it also gives them independence, a wealth of resources and access to information and friends all across the globe.

The key message to take away is be prepared and educate yourself with knowledge about recent lingo and slang. You can then guide your child toward being aware of the messages they may unintentionally be sending or receiving, and help to keep them safe.

And you never know, you may even go from ‘basic’ to ‘woke’ in your pre-teens eyes. We can always hope.

Keen to learn more? Have a read of ‘10 Mobile phone safety Tips for Keeping your Child Safe‘.

Charmaine Chung

Charmaine Chung is one half of the lady boss team behind Somewhere Between, a resource for super mamas everywhere raising kids in the feisty pre-teen and early teen years. Beginning her career in retail fashion, before moving onto the music industry, working for major record labels, Charmaine eventually moved from Sydney to Laos to follow her dreams of starting a family. Four kids and 14 years later, she’s back in Canberra where motherhood has won her over, leading her to develop Somewhere Between - for mums just like her - raising kids who are navigating that space between their childhood and teenage years.

    1. Hi Kelly
      Thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad you think it will be useful. I’ll try to keep it updated so when the time comes it will be right for you.

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