Cracking the Code

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Original Post: Fall 2007
Current: 2010

Text Messages and On-Line Chatting:

Understanding online chat becomes harder everyday, and the acronyms and abbreviations that are used in instant and chat messages don’t make it any easier for parents of teens.

The best defense is knowledge

Parents need to stay ahead of their kids when it comes to this technology and the terminology they use. Become familiar with text messaging “lingo”, or better yet – have your teen or one of their friends show you how to text message.

Don’t get boggled - here is a short lesson on what you need to know to crack the code and keep your children safe!

1. Drop the vowels:

Teens often drop vowels because it makes typing messages easier and faster. Words like “very” become “vry”, smart is spelled “smrt”, and so on.*

2. Look for sound-alikes:

Substitutions are made so words look ciphered.* This means that a Z is used to replace S in plural words, or X instead of a K; so “skips” becomes “sxpz”, and “thanks” becomes “thnx”.

Sometimes symbols are used to fill in for the letters they resemble – such as “$” for the letter “S”.*

3. Spelling mistakes are allowed:

Mistakes are often left purposely uncorrected, due to the fast pace of texting. Common typing errors include “teh” for “the”; “taht” for “that”; and “liek” for “like”.*

4. Look for transforming a word into a letter:

Here is a game from years ago! Does anyone remember this?

“Em r dxz. Em rnt dxz! – Ys, em r dxz -c d ed bd iz?”, which translated to: “Them are ducks. Them aren’t ducks! Yes, them are ducks! See the iddy biddy eyes?”

Today, teens replace short words with single letters; much like the game above. The letter “r” equals “are”; “c” stands for “see” and the numeral “2” replaces the word “to”. So “cu” means “see you”; or “cul” becomes “see you later”.

5. If all else fails use their dictionary!

By using one of the online acronym databases listed below, parents can "stay current" with the lingo and chat abbreviations that their kids use everyday. By typing in the term or scrolling through the alphabetical lists you can find the answers at:

The websites listed above also offer parents a crash course on the dangers of, online predators, and how bad people are using good technology. Consider taking a class at your local library, community center or school.

For more information on on-line safety – contact the Oak Creek Police Department – Community Resource Bureau – 766-7624.

Don’t let your child become a victim. Learn all you can – Knowledge is power!

*Excerpts from JoAnna Zulli, “tech savvy”, Oct. 2007