A Survival Guide to Teens' Digital Lingo

Decode teens' shorthand with our Digital Glossary.

March 22, 2016
Brisa Ayub Senior Content Producer
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, Students

From "TMRW" and "WYCM" to "vamping" and "vlogging," the current digital lingo resembles that of an encrypted secret language -- a secret code only known to those still waiting for their driver's licenses. Students are coming up with clever, short, and to-the-point phrases that can make communication quicker and in many ways more interesting. But some of this lingo warrants a second look. 

For those of us looking to keep a pulse on what our students are talking -- or texting -- about, first we need to know how to decode their shorthand. Our Digital Glossary gives parents and teachers a window into the world of kids' digital lingo. 

We've highlighted a few popular terms from our glossary to give you a leg up on cracking the code.


"Dox" is short for "dropping documents." The term is used when someone maliciously reveals someone else's personal information such as address, phone number, or private social media username on a public site or forum. 

Among kids, doxxing might be done in revenge when a romantic relationship ends. The vigilante hacker group Anonymous has been known to dox people to draw attention to an issue. 


Similar to doxxing, swatting has the potential for some serious consequences. The term refers to a particular type of prank, which involves calling in fake police tips in an attempt to send a SWAT team to an individual's home. 

The term gained some serious attention when a Canadian teenager pleaded guilty to 23 charges related to an international binge of hacking, pranking, and harassment including swatting and doxxing unsuspecting victims. The teenager's rampage led to a Florida school lockdown and even caused part of Disneyland to temporarily shut down.


Two acronyms used to indicate when an adult is present. "PIR" stands for "parent in the room"; "POS" indicates "parent over shoulder." 

Can anyone guess what TIR stands for? (Hint: Not parent in the room, but __ in the room.)


Not all kids' lingo is worthy of concern. "BAE" stands for "before anyone else." It's used across the Internet as a term of affection for a significant other or crush. "FTW" stands for "for the win." For example, on a photograph of a friend wearing a purple jumpsuit, another teen may comment, "Purple jumpsuits FTW!" The acronym can be used seriously or sarcastically. 

On Fleek

Still trying to figure out what "on fleek" means? Don't worry if you don't know this term. It seems the world doesn't really understand it, either, yet people continue to use it. It's essentially a synonym for the phrase "on point," and it originated in a Vine video by a user known as Peaches Monroee, wherein she refers to her eyebrows as being "on fleek." Now, rapper B.o.B has released a song called "Fleek," and popular celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj have posted on social media with the popular caption. 

Teens' digital slang will continue to evolve, but we're here to help you keep up with it as best you can.

Check out our Digital Glossary for more translations of your students' digital lingo.