Digital Glossary

Digital Glossary

Not sure how to decode your teens’ shorthand in the digital world? We've got you covered with the Common Sense Digital Glossary FTW.

For more resources that support families, visit our Family Engagement Resources.

"Netflix and chill"

A term popularized by Twitter and Tumblr users that is a euphemism for sex. It is commonly used to secretly communicate with a significant other.



A hashtag that refers to posts or online communities where self-destructive habits such as cutting, burning, or self-injury are glorified and users can share tricks on how to keep the self-harming behaviors from being discovered.  Similar hashtags are #blithe, #MySecretFamily, #SecretSociety123, and #cat.  

1-to-1 technology

One device per student in the classroom with the goal of making learning more individualized and to extend academics beyond the four-walled classroom.


Party meeting place


A bulletin board-like platform where users can post content to various topic boards anonymously. The site has been linked to various subcultures and 4Chan has been known to contain content that may be offensive and often presents content that shows virtual aggression.




Age/Sex/Location. It is frequently used to begin chatroulette conversations that exchange sexual favors over the Internet.


adaptive learning

Software that adapts it content and pacing to the current knowledge level and skill needs of the user.


As F***. Used to emphasize a specific feeling or quality. For example, someone could be "Excited AF!"

After School

Similar to Yik Yak in its ability to evoke vulgar and explicit anonymous gossip, After School was specifically designed with youth in mind. Watch out for sexually explicit and offensive content on the app’s message board and keep in mind that the app has been linked to cyberbullying and threats to the community. To help reduce inappropriate content, new users will now have to verify that they are at least 17 years old in addition to having to connect through their Facebook accounts.

app flow

Mapping out a combination and sequence of apps that can help students meet lesson and learning objectives.

A social site that lets kids ask questions and answer those posted by other users with the option of staying anonymous.

asynchronous learning

A student-centered teaching method that uses online resources to facilitate learning without requiring students and instructors to be in the same place at the same time.


Stands for Before Anyone Else. It is used across the Internet as a term of affection for a significant other or crush.

Best Secret Folder

The app disguises its private photo folder as “My Utilities” so that no one is the wiser.  The app can also auto-capture photos of anyone that is trying to break into the password-protected folder.  

blended learning

A pedagogical model that combines online and on-site learning and supports some element of student control over the time, place, path, and or/pace of their learning experience.


Broke my scale. A way to indicate that someone liked the way another looked. 

burn note

A message that is erased after a set period of time.


The app appears to be just a regular calculator app until you enter your secret code.  The user can then access private photos.  The app has been reported as being used among teenagers as a way to hide risqué images.  


A real time conversation on a digital platform with another person or a group of other people; instant messaging.


Online service that allows users to video chat and exchange messages with random users. Users arrive at the website, enter their interests or keywords, and are anonymously paired with another user with the same keyword. If one user disconnects from the conversation, the other user is paired with another user with the same keyword, allowing them to "skip" over people. This website has been frequently used to broadcast sexually explicit material due to the video component and the anonymity.

checkout forms

Documentation that indicates when and by whom a device is being used or "checked out" from a cart of devices.


An app on which users can post messages that “self-destruct” after being read.

Cook session

When a group of kids gangs up on another kid via social media.  

cook session

A term that describes when one or more kids gang up on another kid on social media.

course management system (CMS)

A platform for organizing and managing all digital resources for class discussion, course assignments, homework submission, and course scheduling.


Super awkward photos that are cringe-inducing. Can be used to blackmail others; may be uploaded for public viewing to online forums such as Reddit and Imgur.


See you for sex


Online harassment or cruelty, often characterized by repeated or ongoing incidences.

differentiated instruction

Adjusting and adapting instructional methodology, programs, and materials to address individual students' learning styles and ability levels.

digital citizen

Someone who navigates the possibilities and pitfalls of the digital world safely, responsibly, and respectfully.

digital citizenship

The practice of navigating the digital world safely, responsibly, and ethically.

digital footprint

A record of everything an individual does online, including the content he or she uploads. Online information can migrate, persist, and resurface years later.

digital literacy

The skills for using technology competently, including interpreting and understanding digital content and assessing its credibility as well as creating, researching, and communicating with appropriate tools.

digital storytelling

The practice of using web-based tools to create and tell stories; they usually contain some mixture of digital images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music.

digital workflow

A method outlining and facilitating how classwork is assigned, distributed, accessed, worked upon, collected, and submitted in the digital space.

Down to Lunch

A meet-up app designed to help users see who is free to hang out. 


When someone maliciously reveals someone else's personal information, such as address, phone number, or private social media username. Among kids, doxing 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.


An app that allows users to record a video of themselves lip syncing to one of several thousand audio clips from TV, movies, or Internet videos. Can contain explicit audio clips that is not suitable for young users.


A web-based learning environment that allows instructors and students to interact through the computer without worrying about time or place; capitalizes on the current "anytime, anywhere" notion of learning.


A popular social-networking site. Users connect with people of their choosing -- either privately or publicly -- with whom they then can communicate and who can see various aspects of what they post (status updates, pictures). Users also can play games, watch videos, decorate their pages, post and tag photos, share favorite product information, "like" favorite celebrities and social causes, and more.


A photo-editing app frequently used by celebrities to edit photos for other social media. It allows users to heavily retouch pictures, distort one's face and body proportions, etc.


An acronym for “Flashback Friday,” a photosharing hashtag and trend. As with “#TBT,” which stands for Throwback Thursday, teens use the FBF hashtag when they post old pictures on that day -- for example, a baby picture or a photograph of last years prom (generally on Instagram).


An acronym for "feeling like a mom."

flipped classroom

A model in which students access the directed teaching (lectures) at home, usually through videos, and they then spend their valuable classroom time applying skills through inquiry-based learning in a collaborative space and with the facilitation of and feedback from an instructor.


An acronym for "Fear of Missing Out," used when someone feels anxious that he or she will miss (or is missing) an opportunity by not doing something or not participating in some social event, such as a party, concert, or vacation trip. For example, "I decided not to go to the party, and now everyone is posting pictures from it. I've got FOMO really bad."


A social network where members connect to each other by asking questions. Members post about their moods or interests, such as celebrities, food, movies, TV, relationships, and so on. Formspring has the typical social media features profile page to ask questions, an inbox to receive messages, the ability to “like” a post with a smile, and the ability to share with their friends on Facebook or Twitter. Kids 13 and older can easily sign up by providing an username, a password and an email. Formspring allows users to post anonymous comments.


An acronym of For the Win. For example, on a photograph of a friend wearing a purple jumpsuit, another teen may comment, “Purple jumpsuits FTW!” Can be used seriously or sarcastically.


Using game design principles and mechanics to drive motivation and increase engagement in learning.


A GIF is a moving image that constantly loops itself, not to be confused with a Vine or a short video. Most of the time it's used to represent a new phenomena, trend, emotion, or moment, often taking the original basis of the moving image out of context (similar to a meme). 


Get naked on camera


An acronym for "greatest of all time." 


Google's social network, which is now open to teens. It has attempted to improve on Facebook's friend concept, using "circles" that give users more control about what they share with whom.


A popular dating app designed for the gay male community. Users create a profile with their age, location, and a tagline of the user's most appealing quality. This tagline becomes the username with which other users determine who to talk to in their area. After talking to another person, users often choose to meet up with other users. This app can contain sexually explicit images and messages from other users.


group text

Sometimes called a group chat or “GC,” a group text involves more than two individuals (but may involve as many as eight or ten). Group texts are often used on iPhones. A group of friends can talk on it, and everyone receives all the texts. GCs can be useful for coordinating logistics and planning.


A word, abbreviation, phrase or term preceded by “#.” The hashtag connects the post with the broader online conversation about that particular topic; the hashtag serves as a label linking related content. By searching for or clicking on the hashtag, an individual can read or view all the related posts, in essence following a conversation about the subject.


Hit me up. Used as a way to ask for someone's social media handle or personal phone number to directly message.



An acronym for "I don't even know."


I don't give a f***.

iFunny :)

An app in which users scroll through GIFs and images, many of which are jokes and some of which are serious. Tap thumbs-up or thumbs-down to "like" or "dislike," and share jokes with friends and through other social media sites. Images are often composed of popular memes and rage comics. 


An abbreviation for “I love you.” For example, ILY Hannah. She's my best friend.


To send someone a personal message on Facebook. Inbox messages can be to one individual or a designated group.

individualized learning

Personalized learning strategies and goals that target an individual's strengths and weaknesses, often thereby encouraging more learner ownership over the learning process/experience.


A graphic, visual representation of information, data, or knowledge.

informal learning

Learning that takes place outside a dedicated learning environment and delivered in flexible and informal ways, often focused on the activities and interests of students.


A platform that lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a network of followers. Instagram unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. Instagram also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic.


I want sex now


A messaging app in which messages are immediately deleted after the intended viewer opens them. Jott lets users chat anywhere they want, even without data or Wi-Fi. Additionally, users do not need other people's phone numbers, instead chatting with Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook friends, making it alluring for teenagers who don't want to "ask for numbers." 


This app keeps photos and videos in a secret folder that can only be accessed with knowledge of the passcode, determined by the smartphone user. 

Kik Messenger

An app-based alternative to standard texting that kids use for social networking. It's free to use but has lots of ads. It's fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you only use the basic features.

learning analytics

The evaluation of data to finding meaningful patterns to inform learning and teaching.

learning management system (LMS)

A platform for the administration, documentation, delivery, tracking, and reporting of online learning activities.


A time-ordered record or diary of your electronic life on various platforms.


Blogging about something as it is occurring (in contrast to blogging about something retroactively).


Stands for "Laughing My A-- Off" (even though the person behind this message probably isn't really laughing). 

location-based services

Any information, entertainment, or social media service that is available on a mobile device, and makes use of geographical position; such information is provided via apps or is built into mobile device hardware and software.

massive open online course (MOOC)

A course in which materials and instruction are delivered over the Internet to users around the world; the course is designed to connect instructors with learners interested in a common topic and works best with a large user-base with open content.


An acronym for “Man Crush Monday,” revealing your “man crush” online on a Monday (often through a photograph on Instagram or a tweet). Generally a photograph of a celebrity or possibly real-life boyfriend; not generally used as a way to reveal an actual crush.


An app that allows people to live-stream video events to their Twitter followers. Viewers can comment on live streams, sending a tweet to the videographer, which the videographer can respond to. Meerkat has been used at concerts, huge film festivals, and other large events.


The name says it all. Although not marketed as a dating app, MeetMe does have a "Match" feature whereby users can "secretly admire" others, and its large user base means fast-paced communication and guaranteed attention.  Keep in mind the app requires lots of details to register include some personal identifying information.  It is also on an open network, meaning users can chat with whomever’s online, as well as search locally, opening the door to potential trouble.


An idea, activity, or image that gains popularity and is repeated in different forms and spread through the Internet. For example, “planking” lying facedown with arms at your sides as though you are a plank became a popular meme several years ago. Many individuals were photographed planking in different locations (on sports fields, pool tables, tourist attractions).

mobile learning

Learning methods and materials that involve the use of mobile phones or handheld devices; capitalizes on the notion of "just-in-time" learning and learning "anytime, anywhere."

With this app, users can make music videos of themselves or others. Due to the app's ability to share videos out to the public, users will want to adjust their settings accordingly and watch out for iffy content. 


A regularly, automatically updated compilation of content from individuals or sites that you follow.


Naked in front of computer 


Omegle is an anonymous online-chat/video-chat site (also available as an app) on which users can chat with strangers. The home page says, "Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful." This speaks for itself -- users tend to be looking for a sexual conversation or video.

On Fleek

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" but was originated by a Vine user in a video 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. 


A free video, voice, and messaging app. Users can have group chats with up to 12 people for free. (The premium version removes ads from the service.)

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Digital materials available for reuse and repurposing in teaching, researching, and learning; these materials are made available through open licenses.


An acronym for "post a picture."


Often referred to as the “Yelp for humans,” the app allows users to review others with a rating between 1 and 5.   


Video-streaming tool with big privacy implications.

personalized learning

The content, pace, structure, and goals of instruction vary depending on the individual student's learning habits.


Best described as a hybrid of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube -- except that you can require others to pay a premium to access your personal channel.


The concept with this app is a user takes a photo and uploads it, then is sent to someone else's photo that was taken at the same time. The risk is that you don't know what you're going to get back. The app has had various reviews noting the risky and inappropriate images that have the potential to show up in the photo exchange. 


An online site on which users can browse clothing, quotes, cooking recipes, funny pictures, and so on, either through the site or the wider Internet, finding images they then can "pin" to their "boards." In normal language, this means users can compile all their favorite things onto a kind of home page, organizing them by theme or subject and which users can access at any point. 


Parent in room


Podcasts can be video or audio blogs, but the term generally refers to audio content. Its helpful to think about podcasts like radio shows, but after they are released you can access and listen to them whenever you want through the Internet. You also can subscribe to a podcast feed to receive automatic updates on new episodes. There are podcasts for everything from NPR shows (This American Life) to celebrities (Taylor Swift has a podcast).


Parent over shoulder

Private Ninja Cam

This app lets users take photos and record videos without others noticing that one is doing so.  This app can be used to deceive the unsuspecting.  

professional learning community (PLC)

An online community focused around a particular topic, interest, or subject in order to share best practices and resources.

Rage Comic

A set of seemingly poorly drawn illustrations, which have become well-known through their proliferation (similar to a meme) and which include well-known characters such as "rage guy," "troll face," and "cereal guy" and their respective themes and subjects. Found often on sites such as Tumblr and iFunny. 

rage quit

When a gamer, after being repeatedly harassed by other players, quits in a rage typically following an explosive, hostile outburst directed toward the other players.


This app allows users to choose from a collection of beats, spit out rhymes or raps, and then share them with friends. A creative take on sending boring old text messages.


Rate, date, hate. A user might write "RDH" to ask followers, "Rate me. Would you date me? Do you hate me?”  


A forum-like platform on which registered users submit content that is then voted up or down by other users. The site showcases what users find to be important, relevant, or funny on the Internet right now.


To repost another person’s tweet. Retweeting allows you to share the tweet with your followers.


A new form of self-harm behavior. Done anonymously by posing as multiple online profiles created by the user, teens post abusive messages to themselves. MARC (Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center) noted two reasons why teens would cyberbully themselves: as a “cry for help” and “so others would worry about me.”


Taking a picture of yourself, most commonly with the front camera on a cellphone.


The transmission of sexual images or texts via cell phone, the Internet, and other electronic media. 


A spin on the word "relationship," "shipping" is often used to describe someone's wish that two people (or fictional characters) would start a romantic relationship. Usually, it's used with a combination of the names of those two put together. For example, in reference to Jack Frost and Elsa, someone might say, "I totally ship Jelsa."


A flirting app that allows users to sign up as teens or adults. They're then placed in the appropriate peer group, where they can post to a feed, comment on others' posts, add pictures, and chat. They'll get notifications when other users near their geographic area join, and they can search other areas by cashing in points. They receive notifications when someone "checks" them out but must pay points to see who it is. 


An abbreviation for “so much.”


A term for indicating that, "I would have sex with you." 


An acronym standing for "shake my head" or "shaking my head." Used in reference to something that's pretty dumb or so silly it doesn't even deserve a response -- there are no words for it.

Ex.: Person 1: "Today I spilled my lunch on the ground, but I ate it anyway because I was so hungry." Person 2: "Smh." 

Snap story/Snapchat story

A feature in Snapchat that allows users to post a series of videos together. Users may post a Snapchat story of something funny they want all their friends to see but that they don’t necessarily want to post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. It is easier than sending an Instagram post or tweet and easier than send a Snapchat individually to different contacts, because anyone who is friends with you on Snapchat can view it.


A popular messaging app that allows teens to exchange user-generated photos, texts, and videos -- as well as use live video chat. The developer claims these can't be saved within the app and are only viewable for one to 10 seconds before disappearing from the recipient's device, noting that the app notifies the sender if the recipient takes a screenshot of an image.


Verb related Snapchat (“She snapped me a picture of herself and her best friend at that party”).

social bookmarking

An online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of websites and documents.

social currency

A reference to social media actions that show how popular or liked something (or someone) is. For example, likes on Facebook, hearts on Instagram, and retweets on Twitter can all be considered a form of social currency.

Stealth Cam

An app that is designed to secretly take photos.  The user can turn off the shutter sound and can take photos all while having the screen appear as though it is off. 


An anonymous local bulletin board where users can post messages to people close to them using geolocation.


Tweeting about someone without using his or her name on Twitter.


Refers to a particular type of prank, which involves someone calling in fake police tips in an attempt to get a SWAT team sent to an individual's house.  


Process of updating apps and software to or between specific devices.

synchronous online learning

A real-time learning situation in which immediate two-way communication between instructor and participants is possible.


To be honest. Someone might post an image of herself on social media and write "TBH" as a way to look for positive responses. 


An acronym for "to be rude." 


An acronym for "Throwback Thursday," a photo-sharing hashtag and trend. Similar to FBF, which stands for "Flashback Friday." One uses #TBT when posting old pictures on Thursdays.

The 100 Club

A title reserved for those who get at least 100 likes on a Facebook or Instagram post. If a picture doesn't help a poster reach this status, the poster might delete it out of embarrassment.


A popular dating app, used primarily by young adults and older. The app matches users with others based on gender, age, and location, which Tinder users can specify. Users browse photos of other Tinder users, swiping "right" if the user is found to be physically attractive and swiping "left" if not. If both users swipe "right," then a chat can begin. Critics find the photo-swiping activity shallow and problematic, while others advocate for first impressions and attractiveness as being important factors in a relationship.


An acronym for "too long; didn't read," sometimes also seen as TLDR. This can be used by a poster at the beginning or end of a long post to signal the summary of what he or she is writing about, or it can be used by someone else to call attention to the long length of a post that's been written. 

trouble ticket

A reporting system to report and track tech-related issues; each ticket is issued with a unique reference number to allow the user or support staff to quickly locate, add to, or communicate the status of the user's issue or request.


A cross between a blog and Twitter, it's a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, and/or video and audio clips. Users create and follow short blogs, or "tumblogs," that can be seen by anyone online (if made public). The site allows anyone to create his or her own blog under his or her own URL for example, “” The first profile a member creates is public and viewable by anyone on the Internet. Members who desire full privacy have to create a second profile, which they're able to password-protect. Posts on the site are often copied and shared on others’ pages.


A combination of the words “Twitter” and “peeps," ”tweeps” to describes an individual’s Twitter followers (in essence, their Twitter peeps). “Peeps” is short for “people.”


The term used to describe a Twitter post. (For example, if your friend asks, “Did you see the article I tweeted last night?” he or she is wondering whether you saw the article link shared through his or her Twitter account last night.)


A microblogging site that allows users to post brief,140-character messages-- called "tweets" -- and follow other users' activities.


Ways to disconnect from others on social media. “Following” or “friending” someone on social media creates a connection between two individuals. Generally, following or friending someone means that you will see the person’s posts and shared content in your feed and, in some cases (for example, on Facebook), that they will be able to see your shared content. Depending on your specific privacy settings, unfriending an individual on Facebook generally means you will no longer see their content and they are no longer able to see content you post. Unfollowing an individual on Twitter is not reciprocal in the same way; the individual may still follow you and see your posts, but their posts will no longer appear on your time line.

Urban Dictionary

A website that defines Internet slang. It allows users to submit their own definitions of a word or create entirely new words. Kids and teenagers often reference this website to learn about sexually explicit terms.


A witty reference to the behaviors of vampires and other fabled creatures of the night. The term, coined by teens, refers to staying up all night engaging in social media and other online activities. Often marked as “our time” where teens are free of overscheduled activities, homework restraints, and the constant presence of parents, vamping into the wee hours of the night offers teens a sense of solitude and a chance to connect on their own terms. Be aware of how vamping affects their sleeping cycles and thus development.


A video-sharing app focusing on short-form content. All videos are a grand total of six seconds long; users can string together multiple clips or scenes to create this total. Hours can be spent (or lost…) browsing thousands of these videos, and Vine users can like, share, or create their own Vines. 


A video-sharing app focusing on short-form content. All videos are a grand total of six seconds long; users can string together multiple clips or scenes to create this total. Hours can be spent (or lost…) browsing thousands of these videos, and Vine users can like, share, or create their own Vines. 

virtual learning environment

An online education system that mimics real-world education by using virtual concepts for exams, assignments, classes, and more.


A “video blog” can refer either to an individual post or to a collection of posts by which users blog in video form (rather than text). Users can post personal thoughts or reflections based on their daily lives or may create a vlog around a particular interest or theme (everything from tips on how to apply makeup to how to pick your fantasy football team).

vocal fry

A reference to a particular style of speaking that involves making a low, creaky sound while drawing out the end of a word or sentence. Reportedly popularized by the way the Kardashians talk, it's most often used to talk about females, but it can also apply to males.


Part of the Facebook profile, the wall is a place where your posts appear and where others’ posts to or about you appear.


Stands for “want, need, love.” This app is best-described as a digital mall where Instagram and Pinterest meet shopping.


An acronym for "Woman Crush Wednesday" (see also "TBT," "FBF," and "MCM"). Social media users are encouraged to post a picture of a woman whom they aspire to be, a celebrity crush, a girlfriend, a best girl friend, a mother … really, any woman who is respected, loved, or admired romantically (using the caption or hash tag "WCW," of course). 


Lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees. Lots of younger teens seem to be using the app, although an age minimum of 16 has been set by WhatsApp.


An instant messenger that has self-destructing and encrypted messaging features.


Quickly becoming the new ago "would you rather," Wishbone offers users two options and lets you vote on which you like more.  Think of it as an app centered on polling but for items users are actually interested in. 


An app in which users can anonymously create and/or answer polls. Questions range from the completely silly and gross to the somewhat serious. Users can post comments to the polls as well. 

Yik Yak

Think Twitter but anonymous. Yik Yak is a local bulletin board where users can vote a message up or down and do it all anonymously. The app currently is being referred to as one of the most dangerous apps on both high school and college campuses, as many are using it as a tool for cyberbullying and public shaming.


A bare-bones social app that sends a short text message to friends and family, simply reading "Yo" (and speaking the word aloud). That's it.


An abbreviation for “you only live once.” A motto or phrase associated with enjoying life, not taking things too seriously and living in the moment.


An app that lets kids stream and watch live broadcasts. As they watch, they can comment or buy gold bars to give to other users. Ultimately, the goal is to get lots of viewers, start trending, and grow your fan base.   Watch out for teens sharing too much personal identifying information, even by accident.