The Secret Language of Teens: 116 Text and Social Media Acronyms

Teenage boy using smartphone at home
MoMo Productions / Getty Images

If you've ever glanced at your teen's conversations over text or you've seen how they chat on social media, there's a good chance that there have been times when you've had no idea what they’re talking about. Social media acronyms and abbreviations can feel like another whole language.

But it's important to learn what some of that shorthand means. Monitoring your teen's online activity won't be helpful if you can't understand what your teen is saying. You might allow unhealthy conversations to take place right in front of you.

While you don't want to spy on your teen, it's important to stay up-to-date on your teen's social media and smartphone activity. Educate yourself about the most common social media acronyms and slang so you can be aware of the conversations your teen is having.

Common Social Media and Texting Acronyms

Social media and texting acronyms are most often harmless, but sometimes they can indicate red flags. Here are the most common social media acronyms teens are using to communicate with one another.

Commonly Harmless

143: I love you

2DAY: Today

4EAE: Forever and ever

AF: As f---

ADN: Any day now

AFAIK: As far as I know

AFK: Away from keyboard

ATM: At the moment

BFN: Bye for now

BOL: Be on later / Best of luck / Bust out laughing

BRB: Be right back

BTW: By the way

CTN: Can’t talk now

DM: Direct message

DWBH: Don’t worry, be happy

F2F or FTF: Face to face

FOMO: Fear of missing out

FWIW: For what it’s worth

GAL: Get a life

GB: Goodbye

GG: Good game

GLHF: Good luck, have fun

GTG: Got to go; good to go

H8: Hate

HAK: Hugs and kisses

HAND: Have a nice day

HMU: Hit me up

HTH: Hope this helps / Happy to help / How the h---

HW: Homework

ICYMI: In case you missed it

IDK: I don’t know

IIRC: If I remember correctly

IKR: I know, right?

ILY / ILU: I love you

IM: Instant message

IMHO: In my honest opinion / In my humble opinion

IMO: In my opinion

IRL: In real life

IU2U: It’s up to you

IYKWIM: If you know what I mean

JK: Just kidding

J4F: Just for fun

JIC: Just in case

JSYK: Just so you know

KFY: Kiss for you

L8: Late

LMAO: Laughing my a-- off

LMK: Let me know

LOL: Laugh out loud

LSR: Loser

MIRL: Meet in real life

MOS: Mom over shoulder

NAGI: Not a good idea

NM: Never mind / Not much

NMU: Not much, you?

NP: No problem

NTS: Note to self

OIC: Oh I see

OMFG: Oh my f------ god

OMG: Oh my god

ORLY: Oh, really?

OT: Off-topic

OTP: On the phone / One true pairing

P911: Parent alert

PAW: Parents are watching

PCM: Please call me

PIR: Parent in room

PLS or PLZ: Please

PPL: People

POS: Parents over shoulder / Piece of s---

PTB: Please text back

QQ: Crying (This abbreviation produces an emoticon in text; it’s often used sarcastically or as part of trash talk during video games.)

RAK: Random act of kindness

RL: Real life

RN: Right now

ROFL: Rolling on the floor laughing

RT: Retweet

RUOK: Are you okay?

SMH: Shaking my head

SOS: Someone over shoulder

SRSLY: Seriously

SSDD: Same stuff, different day

STFU: Shut the f--- up

SUS: Suspicious

SWAK: Sealed with a kiss

SWYP: So, what’s your point?

SYS: See you soon

TBC: To be continued

THX: Thanks

TIME: Tears in my eyes

TL;DR: Too long, didn’t read

TMI: Too much information

TMRW: Tomorrow

TTYL: Talk to you later

TY or TU: Thank you

VSF: Very sad face / very severely f------ (in big trouble)

WB: Welcome back

WTH: What the h---

WTF: What the f---

WTPA: Where’s the party at?

WYCM: Will you call me?

YGM: You get me (you understand me)

YOLO: You only live once

YW: You’re welcome

ZOMG: Oh my god (emphatic)

Potential Red Flags

ASL: Age/sex/location / "As h---"

FWB: Friends with benefits (friends who occasionally have casual sex)

FYEO or 4YEO: For your eyes only (may indicate explicit photos)

GYPO: Get your pants off

IWSN: I want sex now

KPC: Keeping parents clueless

LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life

NIFOC: Naked in front of computer

NSFW: Not safe for work

OC: Open crib (no parents will be home) / (may also stand for Original Character, a unique character in fan-art or fan fiction not found in the original property)

TDTM: Talk dirty to me

Distracted Driving

As people rely more heavily on their phones for everything from communication to directions, texting and driving has become an increasing problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,100 people died in 2020 as a result of distracted driving. 

Texting while driving is the most alarming form of distracted driving. Texting can take your eyes away from the road for up to five seconds at a time. Driving at highway speeds, that’s the equivalent of driving an entire football field with your eyes closed.

When setting rules around phone usage while driving be sure to lead by example, and don’t use your phone while you’re driving. Explain to your teen their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe while driving. Even if they manage to avoid the worst consequences of irresponsible driving, like serious injury or death, remind them that you or the state may suspend or delay their ability to receive a license if they text and drive. You can even have every driver in your family sign a commitment not to text and drive.

Sleep Habits

Smartphone usage may contribute to a teen’s inability to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. The blue light from smartphones may be partly to blame. Nighttime exposure to any light inhibits melatonin production and messes with the body’s circadian rhythm, but blue light impacts this most powerfully.

To encourage better sleep hygiene, limit phone use and bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed and ask them to use an app that will help them reduce their screen time.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the intentional mistreatment of others through technology, like computers, tablets, and cell phones, and it is surprisingly common. Twenty-eight percent of students between the ages of 10 and 18 have reported being cyberbullied in their lifetime.

Signs that your child may be experiencing cyberbullying:

  • They become upset after using their phone
  • They withdraw from family and friends
  • They avoid activities that they used to enjoy
  • Their grades drop
  • They refuse to go to school
  • They exhibit signs of depression

If you suspect that your child is being cyberbullied, offer support. Listen to them and let them know you are there for them. Ask questions and find out what happened. If you feel that evidence is important, document the incident(s) by printing screenshots. 

Work with your child to determine how they want to proceed with reporting the incident to their school or the police. Their school likely has a cyberbullying policy that may have been violated. If cyberbullying involved criminal behavior—hate-based attacks or stalking, for instance—you may wish to contact the police. 

Steer your child to new friend groups that are healthier and more supportive. If your child continues to struggle with the fallout, they may also benefit from professional counseling. 

Sexting

Sexting involves sending explicit photos, videos, or messages via text, social media, or another digital platform. Sexting holds many risks for teens, including the fact that a once very private message can quickly become public and viral. Sexting can also result in cyberbullying.

Talk to your child about sexting. Ask them if they know what it is and what they think about it. It can be awkward to talk to teens about this kind of thing, but if you take a low-key, informative approach, your teen may be more open to listening and sharing. Sharing a news story that illustrates the possible consequences of sexting can be a non-threatening way to bring up the topic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do teens text?

According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens have access to a cell phone or smartphone. The average teen sends and receives 30 text messages every day.

Does text messaging affect teen literacy?

According to research, texting does not seem to have a significant impact (negative or positive) on literacy in adolescents. The type of reading typically done during text messaging is too different from traditional reading to change overall literacy levels.

A Word From Verywell

Setting healthy limits on social media and texting can help your teen have a balanced relationship with their phone. Screen time limits reduce distractions, promote healthy sleep, and encourage teens to engage in physical and social activities outside of their phone. 

Talk to your teen and encourage them to set limits on screen time. Discuss the risks of cyberbullying and sexting and ask your child how you can support them. Engaging in these topics can sometimes be a little rocky, but with a low-key approach, your teen may be more receptive than you think.

Was this page helpful?
6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Distracted driving.

  2. Harvard Health. Blue light has a dark side.

  3. Anti-Defamation League. Statistics on bullying.

  4. Anti-Defamation League. Cyberbullying warning signs.

  5. Pew Research Center. Teens, social media & technology overview 2018.

  6. van Dijk CN, van Witteloostuijn M, Vasić N, Avrutin S, Blom E. The influence of texting language on grammar and executive functions in primary school childrenPLoS One. 2016;11(3):e0152409. Published 2016 Mar 31. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0152409