Jelly, butters, derp: Do you understand the language kids use online?

Children are superb linguistic innovators, so parents need to both understand the technology and the interactions that their children are involved in

Share

The internet is all things to all users.

For the entrepreneur, it is a wealth of business opportunities. For the scholar, a bottomless vault of knowledge. And for the child, an endless supply of fun and games - plus a few minutes of peace for mum and dad!

Most parents are also only too aware that their child's future success in education and at work can depend heavily on how thoroughly they master this new, digital era. Little wonder, then, that so many children are now online - whether on phones, computers, or consoles - and that those children are getting increasingly younger. With the internet's abundant advantages, though, come the drawbacks, such as potential cyberbullying, trolling and other online issues.

Whilst parents are busy at work, doing school runs, and making dinners, children are spending time each day on their various devices at home and school, absorbing the complexities, skills, and slang that go with each new technology. It can be difficult to feel confident about protecting our children online when they seem able to reprogram the newest gadget straight out of the box, whilst we've yet to figure out which batteries it needs. And how can we supervise every second of those many hours in which children are now online?

For those who have taken the step of monitoring their child's behaviour online, we come to the next hurdle: language. In a nutshell, children are superb linguistic innovators. If there is no word to express quite how they feel about triumphing over the ultimate boss in their video-game, well, then make one. They delight in modifying existing words, coining new ones, and even pinching terms from fiction, internet memes, and other cultures. For the adult, trying to check a chat log for signs of cyberbullying may feel like wading straight into another language. Why not see how well you can translate these three short phrases? (Answers below.)

1) "u jelly?"

2) "she's well butters"

3) "he's a prep, derp jock"

If nothing else, this should demonstrate that protecting children online, and teaching them to be good internet citizens, takes more than simply a net nanny software, a wifi filter, or a fixed internet schedule. In reality, it needs active input from parents and teachers who understand the technology and the interactions that their children are involved in. And it also takes sites helping those caregivers by providing them with the tools, information, and support they need to create a positive environment in which children can safely practice their online skills.

I’ve been working with Disney's Club Penguin to look into the words young people are using as their ‘digital dictionary’ as part of the It Starts With You online safety campaign which empowers kids to take the lead in spreading positive behaviour online and give their parents the tools to better support them. However, online safety cannot be the preserve of just one group. It starts with us all. For instance, offline, we teach children safety and manners as a whole community. Parents, teachers, neighbours, and more besides, all work towards ensuring that children cross the road safely, don't talk to strangers, and are considerate to each other. We need to teach children the art of being both safe and kind online in just the same way. Where children, parents, teachers, and websites all take a proactive role in making this happen, we can only succeed in creating a safer and more positive online environment, not just now, but for generations to come.

Answers:

1) "Are you jealous?" Jelly derives from jealous. Found in several online memes.

2) "She is very (well) ugly." Butters derives from butt ugly.

3) "He's a stuck up, stupid, arrogant individual." Prep derives from the US term, preppy girl (a stuck up girl) in turn derived from preparatory schoolJock also comes from US culture. Derp represents the sound/character of stupidity, and appears extensively across several internet memes, along with the female character, Derpina.

For a full quiz on the words children use online, click here

 

Dr Claire Hardaker, Linguist at Lancaster University and working with Disney’s Club Penguin

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Membership Manager

£35 - 38k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Advisor / Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This position will in the main ...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the top Cosmeceutical br...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer  

It's not just air conditioning that's guilty of camouflage sexism

Mollie Goodfellow
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks