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A Parent's Guide to Understanding Online and Texting Acronyms

PIR - Parent in room
POS - Parent over shoulder
PRW - Parents are watching

You'll see even more variations on these three ("MOS" or "DOS," depending on which parent you are), but they're all warning signs that your child is sending to her friend. She's telling her friend to step lightly, or to halt the conversation altogether. Exactly what she's trying to hide may be difficult to ascertain. She could be talking to a friend who frequently uses profanity, or perhaps they're gossiping about the latest classroom love triangle.

A/S/L - Age/Sex/Location

"A/S/L" is one of the oldest chat abbreviations. It's efficient, boiling down a trio of questions into just three letters. Why should this send up a red flag if you see it on your child's screen? Because merely asking it indicates that your child is chatting with a stranger, and strangers aren't necessarily being honest about their A, S, or L. One of the fun things about the Internet is that it allows people to make connections they wouldn't otherwise have. But if your child is meeting people online, it's important for you to have a conversation with him about online safety. Additionally, seeing this acronym over text message makes a conversation even more necessary, since they've already exchanged phone numbers with a stranger.

RL - Real life
IRL - In real life
LMIRL - Let's meet in real life

Like "A/S/L," "LMIRL" indicates that your child is talking to a stranger. In this case, it's clear that your child intends to meet up with this person offline. Here's a situation where you may need to put aside concerns about invading your child's privacy and ask, point-blank, whom he's talking to.

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