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Teenagers. Photo: Afriheritage

More than ever before, young people are increasingly interconnected. The fact is that they live in a boundless society, exposed to diverse socio- cultural connections. The cyberspace has given teenagers the platform to freely express their thoughts and feelings through teenage websites, blogs, sharing of music, photos and messages in an unmediated scale.

Consequently, the internet has become to the teenager a medium for harmonizing and mobilizing social support, and increasing productive capacities having been exposed to a lot of information with the aid of the cell phone, tablets, through emails, and social media outlets, such as reditt, twitter, facebook, instangram and pin interest. This development is helping them to build and maintain old and new relationships through an array of discussion of topics bothering on family, intimate relationships, careers, music, politics, news and entertainment. These social interactions are bound to sharpen their thought processes, as it enables them to make informed decisions.

The cyberspace has graduated their thinking through the development of emotional and social intelligence. It is not surprising that most teenagers act smart these days, having developed the capacity to perceive, sense and feel the intentions of others and the expression of fine-tuned responses.

The quest by teenagers to find who they are and where they belong is often making parent/child relationship difficult. They rely mostly on their friends for advice. They tend to have a strong interpersonal relationship with their peers. Most times, it affects their connection with family members, as they tend to seek more support from friends. This has led to the popularization of the use of secret codes among teenagers. The CBS has listed the following codes used by teenagers to interact secretly.

1174: Meet at a Party Spot
420: Marijuana Reference
53X: Code For Sex
8: Code For Oral Sex
99: Parents are Gone
9 & CD9: Code 9, Parents are Around
AF: As F**K
ASL: Age/Sex/Location
Basic: Someone who is viewed as boring or a conforming person
Bih: Bitch
CYA: Cover Your Ass or See Ya
CU46: See You For Sex
Dabbing: Refers to concentrated doses of cannabis, also a dance craze
GTG: Got to Go
GNOC: Get Naked on Cam
ILY: I Love You
IRL: In Real Life
ISO: In Search Of
IWSN: I Want Sex Now
FBOI: F**K Boy, a Guy Just Looking For Sex
FINSTA: Fake Instangram Account
FWB: Friends With Benefits
J/K: Just Kidding
Juul: Type of e-cigarette that is small and discreet, pods are used for smoking
KMN: Kill Me Now
KMS: Kill Myself
KYS: Kill Yourself
LH6: Let’s Have Sex
Lit/Turnt/Turnt Up: Something that’s active or popular, can also refer to being stoned or drunk
LMAO: Laughing My Ass Off
LOL: Laughing Out Loud
MPFB: My Personal F**K Buddy
Netflix and Chill: Getting together and hooking up
NP: No Problem
NIFOC: Nude in Front of Computer
OMFG: Oh My F**king God
PAL: Parents are Listening
ROTFLMAO: Rolling on the Floor Laughing My Ass Off
UH: Are You Horny?
SH: Sh** Happens
SMDH: Shake My Damn Head
SMH: Shaking My head, meaning “I don’t believe it” or “that’s so dumb”
Snatched: On point, very good or well styled
STFU: Short for “Shut the F**k Up,” can be used as an expression of disbelief or to cyber bully
TDTM: Talk Dirty to Me
TF: The F**k
Thot: Stands for “that hoe over there” and is often used instead of “slut”
TWD: Texting While Driving
WTF: What the F**K?
WUF: Where You From?
WYD: What You Doing?

This discreet way of communication is making it difficult for many parents to understand their young children because it is watering down relationships, they hardly can decode their expression and feelings. Parents are becoming strangers to their children, not being able to identify what they feel and do. They are unaware of the new habits of their children, which makes it increasingly difficult to track teenagers who are involved in drug use, violence and acts of terrorism or those suffering from bullying. The virtual world is one with its own realities and a lot goes on there. Gaming has assumed dangerous dimensions. Only recently, suicide online game called the Blue Whale surfaced online encouraging teenagers to kill themselves after assigning them daily tasks for 50 days and instructing them to commit suicide on the 50th day. Russia and the UK have recorded many teenage deaths. The game is being propagated by an online suicide group. They are increasingly sucked into the cyberspace because of the many hours spent on the internet daily. It makes it difficult for parents to influence their teenage children.

The gaps starts with parents complaining of their children wanting to be alone, with serious signs of withdrawal from family life, while their cell phones become their greatest companion. As communication lines with parents weaken, the gap is being filled by cyberspace connection, where they are exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly. Most times these teenagers do not understand that their action is frustrating and hurting the family, all they feel is that their parents don’t understand them.

While teenage behavior is often filled with negative narratives, the fact remains that mom’s and dad’s needs to cultivate physical and emotional connection with their children. Maintaining physical closeness would help improve communication with teenage children.  Be active with your kids by helping them to be more tolerant and manage aggression.

The teenage population can turn their numerical activism into something valuable, such as digital marketing in view of their attachment to gadgets like cell phones, tablets and computers. The involvement of teenagers in the cyberspace can be a huge resource of economic mobilization. This is because they have the capacity to facilitate online marketing with their rich social networks. Marketers cannot afford to neglect this group because of their drive for instant gratification.

The use of unconventional and interactive channels of communication has made the teenage group the most besotted by advertising and marketing companies because they have the largest internet penetration. They are a heavy pool for viral marketing. Hence, the deepening of relationship with teenagers by many companies through loyalty programs. This is as a result of the need to influence their thought expression and opinions, as well as building affinity with them.

Teenagers can make positive use of the internet by taking advantage of the technology available to develop good attitudes that can influence their personality and prevent them from becoming victims of loneliness and depression. They could also harness the information available in the cyberspace to change the technological landscape of the world.

Parents and policy makers must recognize that the internet has become a strong communicating link for teenagers. It has become an inseparable medium of influence that gives great freedom to teenagers to carry out their daily activities right from their homes.

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