Have you ever caught a glance of your child’s screen as they were chatting to friends online and wondered what they were saying? Are you a teacher, struggling to maximize internet safety in your classroom? How often have you found your students typing a sequence of letters conveying supposed nonsense?
Whilst acronyms and abbreviations offer a convenient shortcut to informal communication in the digital world, and however harmless they may first appear, the reality is that they are often used by young people to hide inappropriate behaviour from prying eyes. And beneath the unthreatening guise of a few capital letters can lie some severely distressing messages, usually designed with malicious intent. The question is, do you know your ‘LOL’ from your ‘ROFL’ and, if you needed to, could you decipher these twenty-first century slang terms to recognize when they are being used to facilitate bullying online?
In the quest to implement successful internet safetuy provisions in schools and ensure internet safety in a home environment, many parents, teachers and carers feel they lack the knowledge to accomplish these aims. That’s why we have shown our support by putting together a list of the top 5 acronyms and abbreviations that we think parents, carers and educators should be aware of. Impero have worked closely in partnership with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to offer advice to those responsible for the internet safety of young people, helping to find the balance between realizing the endless opportunities of the digital world, whilst also safeguarding children from the associated risks.
1. YHBT – You have been trolled
A recent phenomenon, an online ‘troll’ has been described as today’s modern menace. It is speculated that the term ‘troll’ derives from the fishing reference to tow bait behind a boat, but some also believe it refers to the well-known monster of the same name. Trolls trawl the internet actively creating arguments and posting provocative or inflammatory content in various online communities. Trolls have received huge media attention in recent years, with some facing prison sentences for defacing online tribute sites.
2. FUGLY – Fat and ugly
This is one of the most commonly used acronyms used to bully online, designed to insult a victim’s personal appearance. If you have witnessed a young person sending this term, then it is likely that they are using the acronym to insult a peer. Equally, if a child receives this term, it would suggest that they are a victim of cyberbullying.
3. GKYS – Go kill yourself
This is a particularly concerning term due to the seriousness of its nature, yet it is often difficult to determine the difference between the use of the term as banter or as a genuine threat. Regardless, if you discover a young person sending or receiving this term, the incident must be investigated seriously.
4. SITMF – Say it to my face
This term differs from the previous three, as it is typically used in retaliation to cyberbullying, as opposed to facilitate cyberbullying. If a young person is subjected to online bullying, this term could be used by the victim to encourage the perpetrator to confront them in the real world. Though the term may appear less concerning, it could potentially indicate bullying behaviour and should be dealt with accordingly.
5. JLMA – Just leave me alone
As with SITMF (say it to my face), it is important to be aware of the terms used by both perpetrators and victims in a cyberbullying situation, as they can all help to highlight that cyberbullying is taking place. If a perpetrator is sending messages of an unwanted nature, this term could be used by a victim in response.
It is impossible to know and remember every single phrase, acronym and abbreviation used by young people online today. New terms are constantly being invented; the best way to ensure internet safety is to be aware of the jargon and to develop a clear understanding of the definitions.