Every generation has its version of slang. Slang exists for a variety of reasons — from allowing groups to create their own unique identity to hiding what people are saying. Slang serves multiple purposes, both good and bad.
Generations past have come up with terms like “420”, “bling-bling,” and “fresh.” As adults, we may look back on our days of youth with fondness. We now recognize that the slang we came up with sometimes stops being slang and works its way into common usage. “My bad,” for example, does not seem like slang anymore.
Since slang is a normal part of growing up, we as parents should not be too overbearing when it comes to questioning our kids. However, if we understand slang, it can serve as a tool to help signal things we need to be concerned about.
One of the most useful tools for a parent is the website Urbandictionary. This website compiles slang from all over the internet, but remember to take some entries with a grain of salt. Not all entries are accurate because anyone can enter information, but it is a good starting point. If a word has similar meanings submitted by many people, it’s a good sign that the definition is accurate.
Next to Urbandictionary, the most important tool for a parent is communication. Spotting a dangerous slang word does not mean your child is engaging in dangerous activities.
Communicate with your child about your concerns, since they could be using it for any number of reasons. They may not even know what it means, or perhaps they think it means something else.
Most Dangerous Current Teen Slang
Sometimes slang use can slip from harmless into dangerous territory. Responsible parents will want to know a few important slang words that might signal they need to intervene. Watch for some of the most common terms being used:
- CU46: See you for sex
- FOMO: “Fear of missing out.” FOMO may be harmless, but it often refers to parties or drug use
- GNOC: Get naked on camera. This might be used on dating apps or locations online where adult predators spend time
- Netflix and Chill: This is one of the more well-known slang terms. This means to invite someone over under the pretense of watching “Netflix”, but to engage in sexual acts instead
- Smash: Casual sex
- Turnt Up: To be high or drunk at the same time
Keep an eye out for these terms, especially if your teen is being secretive while using them.
Teen Slang Words Describing Relationships & Sex
Teenage years are when relationships are new, and teens spend a lot of time exploring this. Common terms used in relationships might be:
- Bae: “Before anyone else” and is often used to describe a boyfriend or girlfriend
- BF/GF: Boyfriend or girlfriend
- Creeper: Someone who is socially awkward or tends to have stalker tendencies
- Curve: Romantic rejection
- Down in the DM: Short for plans in their social media or texts for an oncoming sexual hook-up
- Ship: Short for ‘relationship’
- Squad: A group of people (usually groups of girls) that hang out together regularly
- Thirsty: Being desperate for attention; horny
Slang terms can even be an excuse to bring up relationships with your teenager if you haven’t yet. Communication can help them develop a healthy understanding of relationships and how to approach them.
Teen Text Slang for Drugs
Perhaps the most concerning slang is words involving drugs or drug use:
- Crunk: Getting high and drunk at the same time
- Dexing: Abusing cough syrup containing dextromethorphan
- Molly: MDMA, a dangerous party drug
- Straight fire: Normally means something is hot or trendy, but can also refer to illegal drugs that are very strong or potent
- Turnt up: To be high or drunk
- Zip ghost: Someone who is high on marijuana and having a hard time functioning
Slang Words Teens Use to Describe Privacy
Further, be wary of slang words your teen may use to try and hide something:
- POS: Parents over shoulder
- CD9 or 9: Short for “A parent is watching!”
If you spot signs of secrecy, it might be the time to step in and question your kids about their communication.
When to Talk to Your Teen About Drug Use
If you are suspicious of drug use, knowing teen slang can be an important tool to help figure out what is going on behind your back.
Again, communication is the most important tool any parent has. Aggressively approaching your child with accusations can put them on the defensive. Think about if someone at work approached you about the content of your emails. The comparison isn’t completely accurate (after all, we are parents), but it illustrates that it may be better to approach your teen as a friend, rather than an enemy, so they don’t shut down.
If you notice other signs of drug use like they are not grooming themselves, suddenly asking for money when they didn’t before, and have physical signs like bloodshot eyes, this is also a time to act. Signs of drug use along with drug-related signs are pretty strong warning signals.
If you suspect your child is abusing drugs, please call Next Generation Village to explore treatment options available to you. Catching drug abuse early can help prevent the development of substance use disorder in the future.Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.