Teens and 'tweens are more sophisticated than ever in camouflaging their text messages -- even creating text languages of their own that most parents can't crack.
So, you've seen a bit of "webspeak" on your kid's phone or computer, but don't know what it means? There are several websites that can help you decode the secret language your teens might be using online. On these websites, you'll find acronym and phrase dictionaries, translators and tips on how to navigate the waters of learning internet slang.
Click HERE to visit Anne Pleshette Murphy's parenting website.
Teen Chat Decoder: http://www.teenchatdecoder.com/parental-lookup/teenchat-a.html
1337 Translator: http://www.1337talk.com/
Even with these websites, nothing's more important than finding the time to communicate face-to-face with your teens about risky behaviors. You want to focus more on their judgment than on their text messaging.
And remember, you're not powerless when it comes to monitoring what your kids are doing on their phones and on the Internet. Your wireless provider most likely has parental controls that you can add to your phone plan. For example, many allow you to restrict certain numbers or set up times of day when your child cannot use his or her phone. And several other smaller companies are emerging to add to parental control options, such as the following:
WebSafety: This software can monitor your child's e-mails, IMs, social networking updates and texts for incriminating phrases. One downside -- you'll have to install this on your child's phone, which requires a data package (i.e. access to the web from your child's device).
Kid Phone Advocate: The soon-to-be-released TextPal service will monitor your child's text for WatchWords (often related to drugs or sex). The content will automatically be sent to a server where you can look at it. This, too, will require a phone with a data package.