U46 parents get a lesson on lingo of the ’Net
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News May 17, 2012 7:26PM
Hilda Curda, with the U-46 Math, Science and Instructional Technology Department, presents a program on "Social Networking and Your Children” at the U46 Educational Services Center Wednesday night. May 16, 2012. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:38AM
ELGIN — I w4n7 2 m337 u @ *$ L8R 2nI6h7.
Would you be surprised to learn the above is an actual sentence? It is — and one that teenagers are using every day to communicate with each other.
During a forum presented by the Elgin School District U46 Math, Science and Instructional Technology Department on Wednesday night, parents got a crash course in teen social media slang.
“Social networking is becoming a universal language,” said Hilda Curda, secondary math/technology coach, who led the forum along with Jennifer McDonnell, coordinator of math, science, planetarium and instructional technology. “It’s becoming the next new language, and we need to keep up with it. Because who’s really using this universal language? Our kids.”
And they’re getting creative.
“The Internet language our kids have developed uses acronyms, hieroglyphics and sounds,” Curda said. “They’ve combined all three to make a social networking language.”
As is the case with the above “I w4n7 2 m337 u @ *$ L8R 2nI6h7,” which translates to “I want to meet you at Starbucks later tonight.”
Curda told parents keeping up with Internet slang is difficult.
“There is no possible way you can memorize all the new words kids use,” she said. “The purpose of this forum is to make you aware of how to decode it or where to find a resource to decode it.”
Attendees were given a list for several resources on Internet safety, including www.noslang.com, www.netlingo.com and www.isafe.org.
The program, held in the U46 Educational Services Center Auditorium here, also looked at the social networking sites children are a part of these days, including Facebook and Twitter.
As of April of this year, Curda said, more than 900 million people are using Facebook.
She told parents to be wary of the number of Facebook friends their children have.
“It’s a numbers game. The more friends you have on Facebook means you’re popular,” Curda said. “But your kids should not have 1,365 friends. That means they have friends of friends. And a friend should be somebody they actually know.”
How can parents keep their children safe and still give them privacy and freedom to be part of the “Net Generation?”
“Explore the Internet with your children,” Curda said. “Technology is here to stay, and parents need to become aware of it. Kids who are educated in the importance of online safety are more likely to take steps to keep themselves safe online.”
At home, she said, parents can use the Norton Online Family feature to see where their kids are going online and what they’re doing.
“Kids are allowed to have privacy, but there’s a fine line between privacy and talking to them about safety,” Curda said. “Let them know you have this going on.”
McDonnell hopes to host similar forums in the future.
“This is our first time doing this,” she said, “and we’d like to continue having workshops like this for parents.”