Skip to Content
teens texting and listening to music
© Iakov Filimonov | Dreamstime.com
Social media

The secret codes teens are using to indicate tone online

Inter-generational communication can be pretty tough. Between the slang and inside jokes you don’t understand the context of, it can feel like you’re speaking different languages. Thanks to the internet, the communication gap is wider than ever before.

Once you finally understand TikTok terms like “cheugy,” “skrr” or “boujee,” your kids or grandkids are slinging around 10 perplexing new terms. Oh, and don’t forget about the secret meanings behind certain emojis, which can look like hieroglyphs if you’re unprepared. Tap or click here to find out which emojis have shocking, X-rated meanings.

Oh, and here’s yet another texting trend you should know about: tone indicators. You may start seeing them pop up in your kids’ social media feed, so here’s what they mean.

After this article, you’ll know how to decipher these strange codes

If you’re texting your kids or grandkids, you may notice slashes and letters. Say you send a text with a corny joke. A minute later, the notification bell rings and you see their response: “That was a terrible joke and you should be ashamed of yourself. /lh”

At first glance, you may wonder if the “/lh” is a typo.

No, it’s not some new type of emoticon. It actually stands for “light-hearted.” Thus, when someone uses /lh, it means they’re tipping you off that this message is meant in a loving, friendly way.

Lots of people use /lh when they’re poking fun at their friends and family. It’s meant to indicate good-natured ribbing. People use this tone indicator to make it clear that their message isn’t meant to insult the recipient.

RELATED: How to know when someone is seeing your text messages

Tone indicators are a way to get rid of misunderstandings

We’ve all been there. You make a post online. Next thing you know, you’re getting all sorts of messages from people who misinterpreted it and made their own assumptions about what you meant.

That can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you spend a ton of time online. That’s why tone indicators are spiking in popularity. With a few strokes of your keyboard, you can reduce the possibility of miscommunication.

Basically, using a tone indicator is a quick and easy way to get one’s point across more clearly. Now that you know why they’re appearing everywhere, let’s go into what they actually mean. Here are some of the most popular indicators, as well as what they stand for:

Tone indicatorMeaning
/sSarcastic
/jJoking
/fFake
/thThreat
/srsSerious
/lhLighthearted
/nsxNonsexual
/pPlatonic
/sSexual intent
/hypHyperbole
/mMetaphorically
/negNegative connotation
/hjHalf-jokingly
/nmNot mad
/rhRhetorically
/rRomantically
/posPositive
/genGenuine
/cCopypasta (This means they’re posting a silly internet joke someone else made)
/lyLyrics
/neuNeutral
/luA little upset
/tTeasing
/ijInside joke
/cbClickbait

As you can tell, most of them are pretty straightforward and almost every base is covered. More may pop up in the future, of course, since language is always evolving.

RELATED: How to see what your kids are doing on their phones

Keep this in mind

The kids in your life most likely don’t know every single tone indicator on this list. Most people come into contact with them organically, through texts with their friends or posts they encounter online.

If you plan to start using tone indicators, make sure you aren’t going overboard. If you happen to memorize a few, don’t sprinkle them after every single message going forward. You might confuse people, thus destroying the whole point of using them in the first place.

If you plan to use these in the future, bookmark this page and share it with any other parents you know. Although tone indicators can be hard to grasp at first, they were created with positive intentions. The better we understand one another, the better our journey into the digital world can be.

Read more

Does your teen have a fake account online?

Check your kid’s phone for these apps and remove them NOW

Komando.com App background

Check out the free Komando.com App!

Get tech updates and breaking news on the go with the Komando.com App, available in the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Get it today