TBH (To Be Honest) and More Slang Parents Should Know

worried teen_birdsong

When ‘selfie’ becomes Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, it is a good idea to pay attention to the emerging (and influential) language evolving online, much of it penned—or should we say pexted—by teens.

You’ve likely seen the TBT (Throw Back Thursday) posting trend going around social networking sites. TBT is simply people posting either personal photos, songs, or images from the past. Throwback Thursday is a lot of fun, no doubt.

Another slang trend making its rounds of late is TBH (To Be Honest), a term that encourages online users to express honestly how they feel about a person or an idea they post. For example, someone might post a photo or thought and others might respond with: “TBH, you are really pretty even though we don’t talk as much as I’d like to” or “I’ve never told you this but TBH, I think the way you play guitar and write music is amazing.”

As you can imagine, TBH carries both the power to lift another person up (which it often does) with kind or flattering comments or—with just a few clicks—TBH can go south and crush another person if others opt to post negative comments (all shrouded in the virtuous effort “to be honest,” of course).

TBH has become so popular, some entrepreneurs have attempted to create a TBH movement of sorts by Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 5.36.48 PMintroducing a TBH app, a TBH blog (complete with instructions on “how to write a TBH”), and a TBH App Facebook Page. The TBH app encourages users to join the TBH social network to  “find out what your friends REALLY think about you.”

While we hope TBH remains a safe social community for encouragement, we’ve already seen some using the TBH term as an opportunity to vent about one another’s weaknesses or physical appearance.

Additional trending terms to keep on your radar:
JBH = Just Being Honest
LBH = Let’s Be Honest or Loser Back Home
TBBH = To Be Brutally Honest
SMEXI = Smart and Sexy
IMO = In My Opinion
GOMB = Get Off My Back
KOTL  = Kiss On The Lips
KOS = Kill On Sight. This is a term that originated with online war games such as World of Warcraft. It means basically marked for death just by showing your face. However, it can also be used as a threat by a cyber bully.
S&D = Search and Destroy (also could be a threat)
Ug = Ugly
CID = Acid (as in, the drug)
WAW = What a Waste
CNBU = Can Not Be Unseen
Gomer = Geek, wierdo, nerd
Ratchet = Ugly, nasty, awful
Broken = Hungover from alcohol
Beep face = A general insult
Butter face = A named describing a person with an alleged pretty body but ugly face
420 = This means marijuana (also look for words like 420 4life, boo, blunt, and buddha)
ASLP – Age, Sex, Location, Picture (if someone is asking this to your child, dig deeper)
FYEO = For Your Eyes Only
CD9 = Code 9; parents around
POS = Parents Over Shoulder
FUBAR = ****** Up Beyond All Recognition (inebriated or stoned)
Sugarpic = Suggestive or erotic photo
53x = Sex

So what do I do with this insight?

Glad you asked. We know slang has been around for centuries and every generation deserves its own “code” that sets it apart from authority. No biggie. However, when we move into the digital space and that “code” puts a child in emotional or physical danger, parents can and should step in.

11 Tips for Parents: 

  1. Don’t assume they know. Children may have tech skills but lack the wisdom needed to navigate digital potholes. Eventually, they will find themselves in the middle of a sensitive situation. Help them develop discernment, responsibility, and the tools they need to handle any situation online.
  2. Monitor devices. Random spot checks of Instant Messaging services on the family PC, monitoring of social networks, and spot checks of mobile devices is important for young children and teens. Even the most honest teens will push their limits and take risks as a natural part of growing up and seeking to be independent.
  3. Repeat the obvious. Despite the misguided adage, “sticks and stones,” remind your kids that words actually do hurt—a lot in fact. The hurt is multiplied when others join in a “group” slam online, and cause sometimes irreparable damage to a person’s self esteem and outlook on life.
  4. Teach conflict management. If you find suggestive texts or inciting texts being sent to your child, talk openly and honestly about the situation around the text. Discuss ways to respond to minimize the conflict.
  5. Teach them to be proactive. If their friends routinely text inappropriate content to your child or use offensive language, teach your child to be proactive in letting friends know not to send offensive content.
  6. Enforce consequences.  If your child is the one sending the suggestive or inciting texts, enforce consequences you’ve set in place and ban your child from mobile devices until you are convinced he understands the concept of responsible texting. Also, help him make amends.
  7. Discuss sexting. Talk openly with your child about the dangers of sexting. Discuss the legal ramifications of sexting as well as the emotional and physical fallout of sexting.
  8. Talk about cyber bullying. Talk openly with your child about the emotional damage caused by cyber bullying. Help them deal with online bullies, block, and report them.
  9. Warn them about strangers. Talk seriously with your child about the physical (and emotional) danger of communicating with a stranger online.
  10. Get serious about texting. Parental controls to monitor texting (and any online communication) is critical as young children learn the ropes of communicating with peers online.
  11. Involve your child. Instead of an “us” and “them” discussion regarding responsible texting, ask your child to give input on the family ground rules for texting and even the consequences for irresponsible texting. The more you can make Internet Safety a family conversation rather than a set of rules to follow, the more logical and practical online safety will become for your child.

*Source: Most terms we’ve defined are ranked as top 50 currently “trending” by http://www.internetslang.com/. Other terms are from: http://onlineslangdictionary.com/.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @SafeEyes. (Disclosures).

14 comments on “TBH (To Be Honest) and More Slang Parents Should Know

  • I think that this is really helpful for not only parents, but also teenagers, due to the fact that we teens don't even know the different abbreviations we send eachother. I srsly never knew about cd9. Just for your information, these are some more:
    btw – by the way
    afap – as fast as possible
    nm – never mind
    *removing vowels in words* – rmvng vwls in wrds
    ftw – f***/for the world, depends on context
    gfy(s) – go f*** yourself — try "Your mom was pretty consuming as a comeback"
    bth – bury the hatchet

    and many many more. Good luck keeping up

    Reply
    • igobythisname says:

      Actually, ftw means 'for the win', giving one superiority over the over, like Dodgers ftw! (Over the Giants)

      Reply
  • As a teen my self this really helped me understand tings more coz all my friends say it and I'm like (idk what u mean) but now Ik I don't have to ask em anymore thanx

    Reply
  • As a teen myself also "tbr" means "to be rude" usually people just put "your too perfect to have a tbr" or something like that but if some says "tbr:" followed by a rude comment, consider checking into the persons account.

    Reply
  • now i know what other teens says because honestly i dont get what they are saying. anyway this is a big help to parents out there.

    Reply
  • Im finding another hashtag slang called #tbu and i dont what it us. I wonder if it is gay related because i clicked on it and has alot transgenders and lbgt.

    Reply
    • Alexandra says:

      Tbu means "to be updated" i guess that can go for transgender and other surgeries related to that. But usually not…

      Reply
  • Samatha Grenich says:

    Yes, every (proper) parent should know these simple abbreviations to help themselves and their child in times of trouble.

    Reply

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