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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Don’t pity me for eating alone, just give me a better table

Rosie Millard
Aerial view of planned third runway at Heathrow  

Heathrow expansion: This final 'conclusion' has simply fanned the airport flames

Chris Blackhurst
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave