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Staying Safe-- Text Messaging

Staying Safe-- Text Messaging

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Nadine Wimmer reportingWe're starting a week long effort to help families Stay Safe during the summer, starting with Text Messaging.

They didn't have it when most of us were kids. But now they spend hours typing messages on computers and cellphones. Do you have any idea what they're saying? You may not know what these stand for. But your kids probably do.

Amanda Alley & Shelby Rogers: "It's a way to communicate." Nadine: "How much time do you spend every day?" "Like an hour. I spend three to four hours."

They talk about school, boys and stuff. But they do it in a shorthand that's easier to type, and harder for parents to read.

We'll start with the ones that are harmless: R. U. is the question, Are you? Y is short for Why? GTG-- Gotta go. ASL? Age, sex, location. LOL is Laugh Out Loud.

"There's LMAO and LMFAO, and they're kind of bad."

Bad enough we'll just tell you, the first two words are "laughing my..." you figure the rest.

Some shorthand describes what they are or aren't wearing in front of the computer.

But if you have to ask about this one, you likely need to know.

"POS." "What's that?" "Parent over shoulder. So you use it when your mom comes in, and reads your conversation and stuff." "Do conversations ever get dicey?" "Yeah, they get pretty bad."

"Should your parents be concerned, do you think?" "No. I don't think they should be concerned because we know what we're doing and stuff."

But this researcher and consultant in children's media disagrees.

Kim Storey EdD/ Children's Media Researcher: "I think we have reason to be concerned because of the enormous changes, especially in the past five years."

And those changes have left parents out of's hard to supervise if you don't know what's going on.

To help your children Stay Safe,

  • Ask about messages
  • Supervise computer use
  • Teach limits

Kim Storey: "Take a step into the bedroom and say, 'Hey, what are the kids chatting about online now?' The first thing that my son will do is cover the screen. I'll say, 'No, no, let me see. Give me a sense of what goes on."

Risque content can make young people vulnerable to high-risk behavior or predators.

Then there's the issues of cost and time, that's supposed to be going to homework or chores.

Amanda Alley/ Age 14: "My mom thinks I do it too much, like it's wasting my time."

If you'd like a dictionary for some of the on-line terms, you'll find a link in the box above.

Tomorrow we'll show you the latest on playground safety and how some clothing trends lead to playground injuries.

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