This is why it's important for Massachusetts parents to be up on the latest text slang.
Text lingo practically changes weekly and a lot of the times, parents have no clue what their Massachusetts kids and their friends are saying says chief parent officer of Bark, a software program that monitors, detects and alerts parents to potentially dangerous conversations on their kids' cellphones, and email and social media accounts.
It is surprising how many parents still don't know what 'Netflix and chill' means." (For the record, it refers to hooking up, not actually watching Netflix.)
Although surveillance software of this nature isn't new, Bark.us differentiates itself by sifting through conversations and only alerting parents to troubling words or thoughts - ones whose acronyms parents might not be familiar with. Most of the other programs and apps will provide parents with all the data that goes through their kids' devices, resulting in a lot of information to wade through.
It also has the ability to decipher when kids are kidding and when they're being serious. For examples, if it's a high school girl who's tripped and fallen in the hallway in front of her crush, and she texts her friend, 'KMS' [kill myself], the software will recognize that she's joking and won't alert her parents that she's on the verge of suicide, but if it detects a kid expressing loneliness or sadness and that acronym pops up, the parents will be alerted.
Other acronyms parents should be aware of include:
GNOC: get naked on camera
FBOI: a guy who's just looking for sex
WTTP: want to trade pictures
FINSTA: fake Instagram account
PAL: parents are listening
1174: meet at a party, state
For older generations watching the proliferation of these surveillance programs from the sidelines, it can look like an invasion of privacy. But many are of the opinion that this is a non-negotiable point that parents have the right to be on top of.
A lot of parents assume their kids know what's OK and what's not.
Parents should have an initial conversation about the guidelines and expectations you have about the device, and highlight what the child can and cannot do with it.
Experts advise creating "check points," regular conversations to observe and discuss what has been going on. By scheduling it, kids won't feel like it's been sprung on them and they're less likely to become defensive.
They also advise parents to talk about what's happening in their kids' world, like new apps or stories about youth in the news that would be relevant to them. This will help them open up.
No one would be faulted for sifting through a young person's text conversation and being utterly confused by it, so parents to search unknown terms online at Urbandictionary.com, or ask a friend or colleague. But really, the source should be their own kid.
Not that kids these days are taken off guard by these kinds of questions or expectations. In this day and age, kids are used to the fact that their parents are Tech savvy and that they'll be monitored, whether it's with GPS apps or software that gives them access to their devices. There's no argument about whether or not parents should be informed.
All parents are concerned about the health, education and welfare of their children. For those going through a divorce, communication between the parents and their children should be of utmost importance.
Contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation to discuss your concerns.