You may not realize it, but when your grandkids chat with their friends online, they've most likely mastered an entire vocabulary of acronyms and "emoticons" designed to facilitate the truncated, rapid-fire back-and-forth that characterizes most online communication nowadays. You and I may bemoan the lost art of letter writing, but today's kids are simply not geared to "snail mail."
Rather than hound them for letters that will likely never arrive, why not jump onboard the online-chat bandwagon by learning to IM (Instant Message)? You can have a RT (real time) conversation with your grandkids that costs little and that everyone will enjoy.
Most major ISPs (Internet Service Providers) offer instant messaging services at no cost. All you have to do is download the software. Check with your ISP for details.
One fun way to enhance your online communication experience is to learn the lingo. Although some acronyms are designed to thwart the prying gaze of parents (POS = "parents over shoulder"), most are harmless shorthand for common phrases like "Be Right Back" (BRB), "See You Later" (CUL8R) and "In My Opinion" (IMO).
Emoticons are those little symbols that feature not only smiles, but frowns, winks, squinty eyes and scrunched mouths. In the early days of internet chat, it required imagination and creativity to compose the little sideways faces made from keyboard symbols (carrots, brackets, dashes, parenthesis, colons and semi-colons, etc.). Now, most of the popular ISPs have made it possible to simply cut and paste little yellow faces directly into a dialogue box.
But just in case you want to do it the "old-fashioned" way, here's a short list of emoticons you can use with your progeny's progeny to significantly boost your "coolness" factor online:
:-) = smile
;-) = wink
:-D = laughing
:-< = sad
:-P = sticking out tongue
:-X = mute/big kiss
:-O = shocked
:-/ = skeptical
There are many, many more of these symbols (some more family-appropriate than others). More acronyms you'll want to be prepared to toss out include:
BTW = By The Way
AFK = Away From Keyboard
DWL = Dying With Laughter
EMFJI = Excuse Me For Jumping In
F2F = Face To Face
FOCL = Falling Off Chair Laughing
ROTFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
GBTW = Get Back To Work
GTG = Got To Go
IC = I See
IDGI = I Don't Get It
OTOH = On The Other Hand
CFN = Ciao For Now
Besides these, why not come up with some "designer" acronyms of your own — a language to share just between you and your grandkids when you're chatting online? In the meantime, DYH (Do Your Homework) and GBL (Get Busy Learning) how you can communicate in a way your grandkids can relate to. IOHO, IWTE (In Our Humble Opinion, It's Worth The Effort)!