The acronyms teens really use on social media


— For the sake of this story, I’d like to invent a new acronym: IAVS, which means, “I am very sorry.”

The reason for the apology stems from a story I wrote last year, “28 Internet acronyms every parent should know.”

“Wouldn’t it be interesting to do a piece on the acronyms that teens are using across the Internet, especially on social media and apps, to help parents understand what, in fact, their kids are talking about?” I thought.

I consulted existing lists of Internet acronyms and talked with Internet safety experts. It seemed fine — until the story published and I received a wildly critical response on social media, often with language that I can’t include here.

My Twitter feed blew up with people saying I didn’t know what I was talking about and that teens weren’t using most of the acronyms on my list.

Here’s why I’m sorry: For that story, I never consulted with the true experts — teens, themselves.

I’m thankful to have a chance for a re-do, and this time I know we’ll get it right because our list comes straight from the social media posts of 13-year-olds around the country.

As part of a two-year investigation, #Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens, Anderson Cooper and his “AC360°” team connected with 200 eighth-graders at eight different schools around the United States. They, along with their parents and schools, gave CNN and two child-development experts permission to review what they were posting on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook over a six-month period.

The end result: 150,000 posts written by 13-year-olds. They speak volumes about how teens communicate and what impact social media has on their lives. (The CNN Special Report “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens” airs at 9 p.m. ET Monday. Watch to find out the results of the first large-scale study of its kind on teens and social media.)

So what better way to know what acronyms and other shorthand teens, or in this case, 13-year-olds, use on social media than to scan their posts? Here are some of the more popular acronyms and sayings, from the innocent to the racy.

  1. OOTD – Outfit of the day
  2. KOTD – Kicks of the day — Typically refers to sneakers
  3. HMU – Hit me up — Usually asking for someone’s Snapchat username, a phone number to text or for a direct message
  4. Smash – I would have sex with you — A girl might post a provocative picture and a boy might write “smash.”
  5. Cook session – When one or several teens gang up on another kid on social media
  6. TBH – To be honest — A teen might post a picture of himself or herself and ask for a TBH, usually looking for positive responses.
  7. TBR – To be rude — While TBH often leads to positive responses, TBR is usually followed by a negative response.
  8. OOMF – One of my followers — A secretive way to talk about one of their followers without saying their name, such as “OOMF was so hot today.”
  9. BAE – Baby — affectionate term for someone’s girlfriend, boyfriend etc.
  10. WCW – Woman Crush Wednesday — A girl will post a picture of another girl she thinks is pretty, while guys will post pictures of girls they think are hot.
  11. MCM – Man Crush Monday — Similar to Woman Crush Wednesday, but featuring pictures of men
  12. BMS – Broke my scale — A way to say they like the way someone looks
  13. RDH – Rate date hate — As in “rate me, would you date me, do you hate me?” A typical response might be “rate 10 date yes hate no” or “10/y/n.”
  14. IDK – I don’t know
  15. RN – Right now
  16. KIK – Another social media app, Kik, that they want to communicate on
  17. FML – F* my life
  18. AF – As f* — A teen might tweet “mad af” or “you seem chill af.”
  19. LMAO – Laughing my ass off
  20. S/O or SO – Shout out
  21. ILYSM – I like you so much or I love you so much
  22. CWD – Comment when done — Similar to TBH, urging others to comment on their photo of whatever they’re posting
  23. LOL – Laugh out loud — Yes, you’ll still find teens using LOL and OMG.

What are some of the other acronyms or sayings teens are using on social media? Share your thoughts with Kelly Wallace on Twitter @kellywallacetv or CNN Parents on Facebook.