Two text bubbles with emojis and text acronyms

Text slang is code children use when communicating digitally, as a shorthand to decrease the amount of time used spent texting. Other times teens use text speak in order to have conversations of a mature nature without their parents, teachers, or guardians knowing the real deal. Understanding and knowing this new form of communication is an important part of digital parenting, as it empowers you to address problematic issues by engaging in open and honest dialogue with your tween or teen. Indeed, some kids may not even understand the meaning of what they are texting as some of these more popular terms make their way into advertising and other media children see.

Ever heard of “Netflix and chill”? It means more than streaming a movie with a buddy. It’s actually code for hooking up and making out or having sex. Speak with your kids about problematic text slang with compassion and understanding. Children need to know that if they mess up, you are there to support them and guide them.

Digital parenting is a challenging task, but our goal at Bark is to make it easier to stay on top of your children’s online issues and keep the lines of communication open. Bark’s machine learning algorithms constantly learn from the context in conversations it analyzes. As such, it’s able to identify and adapt to changing slang. A team of leading psychologists have created recommended actions which are sent with our alerts. These recommended actions are also a tool to aid in discussions with your child on these issues. Below are some of the current text codes that teens are using and thankfully, what they mean.

Popular Text Speak for Teens Decoded

Popular Emoji Icons for Teens Decoded

Wow, right? For a more extensive list of teen speak codes, check out our full list on Teen Text Speak Codes Every Parent Should Know. We’ve combed through our data at Bark to find the most common instances of text speak that teens use and put them here. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us at help@bark.us. We’ve got your back!

is snapchat safe for kids?

Is Snapchat safe for kids? Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social media apps available today. It allows people to snap and caption photos as part of a conversation. This is viewed as far more personal than simple text messaging. Although Snapchat certainly has fun features, it’s important to discuss safety with kids – especially they have their own mobile phones. Here’s how to approach the conversation and keep your child safe online.

Is Snapchat Safe For Kids? Remind Them to Never Snap with Strangers

Although it might seem harmless to snap someone you don’t know, people can be whomever they choose on the internet. It’s possible for people to send pictures of other people – even people your kids may know – and claim to be that person. Additionally, predators will make friends with a less discerning child (or one that is not monitored) and then try to reach out to that child’s friends, and it seems like they know that child when they don’t. It’s best to teach your kids that people are not always who they say they are. Snapchat is a fun way to keep in touch, but your kids should only talk to people they know and have confirmed their username.

Nothing is Truly Private

A common misconception about Snapchat is that messages and photos disappear after a few seconds. This false belief can encourage risky behavior since kids perceive what they send will vanish quickly – even when snapping with strangers. While Snapchat is designed to make things seemingly vanish shortly after viewed, there’s nothing to stop someone from taking a screenshot or screen record opening up the Snap. Screenshots and videos create a permanent digital image. Teach your kids to be careful about the images and text they send. Nothing shared is ever guaranteed to remain truly private.

They’re Giving Snapchat Permission to Use Their Photos

Check out the Terms of Use set forth by Snapchat, your kids may be not be aware of what they mean. Creating an account and sending a snap gives the user the right to “retain whatever ownership rights in that content you had to begin with.” BUT, and it’s a big but. It grants Snapchat the “a license to use that content.” This license is dependent on their settings. These terms means your kids should be sure to only snap things they’re comfortable with others seeing or even using for their own purposes.

Never Meet Up with People They Encounter Online

It’s vital that children be reminded that not everyone is who they claim to be, and that’s why children should never meet up with an individual they encounter online, or are referred to by a friend of a friend. There are online predators who use social media like Facebook, Snapchat, and even Instagram to lure their victims. In most cases, these predators claim to be children of similar ages and with similar interests. We’ve shared a couple of great posts on the topics of Grooming and Sextortion which we recommend reviewing so you’re familiar with the signs of a sexual predator. Once again, remind kids that they should never exchange snaps with people they don’t know.

You Should Stay in the Loop

Finally, remind your kids that their Snapchat account and other social media accounts are not rights; they’re privileges. You should add their Snapchat account to Bark, where we are able to scan public and private Snapchat stories. We can also monitor Snapchat DMs on Android and Amazon devices. However Snapchat does not allow external access to DMs on iOS devices. We’re working on it!

Additionally, check in with them often, to make sure your kids are following the rules you set forth for the use of social media. Make sure there are serious consequences –set out before hand – for instances in which they do not follow the rules.

So is Snapchat safe for kids? Although Snapchat can be a lot of fun for preteens and teens as it gives them a means of keeping in touch with friends, it is vital that your kids learn to use Snapchat appropriately to stay safe. The general rules of the internet apply, so be sure to discuss them thoroughly and keep an open and honest dialogue with them about staying safe online.

why does bullying happen on instagram

Cyberbullying is a rising concern, and it’s one that typically has no real legal repercussions – especially among minors. The best way to prevent the consequences of cyberbullying, like depression and sometimes even suicide, is to understand how and why kids do it. Here are some of the ways teens use Instagram to cyberbully others, and a look at why bullying happens.

1. Create Fake Accounts to Impersonate Their Targets

Some kids create fake Instagram accounts, called “finstas”, to impersonate their targets. It’s simple enough to do, especially if those victims regularly post photos to other social media sites (ie. Snapchat), the target’s real Instagram account, or share them in group chats via text message. The cyberbully simply downloads the victim’s photo and uses it to create a fake account. They can then say or do a variety of things to harm the reputation of their target. Fake accounts go against Instagram’s terms of use and can be reported using Instagram’s built in reporting system, even people who do not have Instagram accounts can file a report. Children who are targets of reputation cyberbullying benefit from the support of their parents and peers to deal with the emotional side effects.

2. Cruel Comments

Teens are at an age where their self-image is still developing. Keep in mind that the frontal lobe (the impulse control and decision-making part of the brain) is not fully developed until their early 20s. Additionally, they’re trying to discover who they are and who they want to be as adults, but don’t always know how to express this. Cyberbullies often go to great lengths to harm their targets’ self-esteem, including leaving cruel and demeaning comments on selfies and other photos. Sometimes, these comments are lies designed to make kids look bad in front of peers and harming reputations.

3. Captioning Other Photos

There have been reports of cyberbullies uploading explicit or even pornographic photos and tagging unsuspecting targets in them. Unfortunately, this can not only be embarrassing, but leave lasting scars. The bully will sometimes attempt to lead others to believe the photo is of the target. They caption someone else’s photo with a negative or hurtful sentiment to imply it is the target. This subversive form of cyerbullying, called shading, may not even name the target. However, it is done in such a way that anyone who knows the target knows it’s about them.

4. Being Malicious

Cyberbullies often pose as friends to their targets to gather information to use to bully later. For example, cyberbullies may befriend their targets and use the opportunity to take incriminating photos at parties or create embarrassing photos with Photoshop or other photo editing software. The cyberbully then uploads the picture to mortify their targets. They are looking for engagement from either bystanders or the target and are bolstered by the attention from the ensuing drama. Cyberbullies often go after kids they know and perceive as being weak or having low-self esteem.

Why Does Bullying Happen? And How to Stop It

Cyberbullying is heartbreaking and can leave a negative impact on the targets. Unfortunately, social media gives kids plenty of options for anonymous bullying. Be your child’s support system. Let them know cyberbullying is unacceptable and not their fault. Figure out a response together to empower your child to deal with the cyberbullying and bolster their self esteem. The best response is to disengage with the bully, take a screenshot of the message, and be sure to report all instances of cyberbullying to the social media platform. If the cyberbullying continues, report it to the authorities as harassment. If your child is the one doing the bullying, they may need some counseling to pinpoint the reasons why they feel the desire to make others feel bad about themselves.

Cyberbullying is a problem, and it’s one that continues to grow. More and more kids report being cyberbullied every single day. It’s up to us, as engaged parents, to understand why bullying happens, and to talk to our kids about cyberbullying and help keep them safe. Use Bark monitoring to keep your kids safe. Bark monitors online interactions for you, if our algorithms detect these instances of cyberbullying, we send you an alert.

Twitter Instagram TikTok GroupMe Snapchat

**This post was updated May 11, 2021.**

Engaged parents know the challenges kids face as they dive into the world of social media. That’s why it’s important for parents to be a guiding force in teaching online etiquette. Bark was created to support parents by detecting and alerting you to potential issues, allowing teens privacy, and providing the tools necessary to speak to them about potential issues. While issues can arise on pretty much any platform, here are some of the top apps that are most popular with teens and tweens, so you can make sure you’re monitoring them closely.

1. Instagram

Instagram is one of the top apps for teens that focuses primarily on photos and videos. Teens can share selfies, memes, and anything else they enjoy, which then allows others to leave comments. Instagram is a great way to keep in touch, but it also presents plenty of opportunities for cyberbullying and inappropriate behavior. With the advent of subtweeting, Finstas, and pornographic hashtags, Instagram is no longer just about pretty pictures. Bark monitors the images, videos, and comments your child posts. Additionally, we can monitor Instagram direct messages and searches on connected Android and Amazon devices. However, Instagram does not allow external access to private messages on iOS… yet!

2. Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms among teens. This is partly because Snapchat automatically erases photos and text messages after a few seconds. Kids may think they will not get caught when they send risky messages to someone, but they often don’t consider that other users can take screenshots or even screen recordings of their Snaps. These can then be shared and potentially used for cyberbullying and other nefarious purposes.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce risky behaviors on Snapchat. It’s normal for teens to explore their sexuality, but remind them that sexting and sending nudes or other explicit messages can carry criminal liability. Additionally, Bark is able to scan public and private Snapchat stories and monitor Snapchat direct messages (DMs) on Android and Amazon devices.

3. GroupMe

GroupMe allows Android and iPhone users to group chat with each other easily over Wi-Fi, letting them stay within their data limits. The app can also be used to schedule events or send money, and it has an array of emojis and GIFs available. However, the emoji and GIF features are not always age-appropriate and may include adult content. There is also no way to delete a past post, which means a user’s control over their content is very limited. However, Bark is able to monitor your child’s group messages and private messages on GroupMe, including the images and media associated with each.

4. Twitter

Twitter is another one of the top apps that kids use to share memes or keep track of their favorite celebrities. Monitoring Twitter is important, as it is often a top choice for messaging between teens. Bark monitors kids’ Twitter accounts, including their private direct messages. As another safety measure, follow the celebrities that your teen follows and discuss any tweets you see that are inappropriate.

5. TikTok

TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps for teens and tweens. Although the platform began as a lip-syncing app, it is now used to create 15-second videos about anything from cooking tutorials to short history lessons to comedy skits. But cyberbullying and sexual content can also be part of the TikTok experience, so monitoring is important. Bark monitors TikTok on Android so that you’re alerted to any potentially concerning content.

The Top Apps and Online Safety

Many teens use social media apps to communicate and share fun memes with their peers. Online safety challenges may arise as teens learn how to use them responsibly. We all have to keep in mind that the frontal lobe — the impulse control and decision-making part of our brains — is not fully developed until our early 20s. Kids do not always understand the permanent and future consequences of today’s actions. This means when your kids or their friends are dealing with online issues like cyberbullying, they need guidance from a trusted adult.

Monitoring your teen’s digital life — especially on these top apps — is an important part of being a digital parent. Sign up with Bark today and connect your teen’s social media apps, emails, text messages, and more.