Getting Real With Amy Kelly, Founder and CEO of Parent eSource

Remember the good old days before your kids became tweens and teens and actually used to talk to you about their lives without an interrogation? They’re constantly texting, tweeting on Twitter, making new video blogs for YouTube and posting on Facebook, but somehow when you ask them how school was the answer is always “Fine.”Parents these days have to be especially social network-savvy in order to keep up with the fast-paced, evolving world their teenagers live in.

So what are the kids talking about these days? This week, the acronym “HMU” hit one of its all time high usage records. According to Forbes magazine, the fastest growing trend on Facebook in 2010 was the acronym “HMU.” I’ll give you a few minutes to think about what that might stand for. Help Me Understand is all that comes to mind. Actually, the acronym stands for “hit me up,” slang used by teenagers in order to suggest the other person contact them in some way to arrange a meeting of some sort. By the end of the summer of 2010, “HMU” was mentioned on Facebook an average of 80,000 times per day. The decrease after the summer was due to the start of the school year, but since Spring Break is approaching, kids can finally HMU again.

Another hot topic on the social networks, is (who else?) Justin Bieber. Yes, “Biebermania” is not dead yet and his fans (who are composed of mostly tween and teenage girls) can’t get enough of him. The recent hype can probably be attributed to the release of his biographical film “Never Say Never,” which premiered on February 11 and grossed over $68 million at the box office. The reviews weren’t too bad, either.

Not everything the kids are talking about is self-centered or shallow either. Kids are also talking about recent, hard hitting political events such as the civilian uprisings in both Egypt and Libya. The best part about social networking, is it only takes one of their friends to read the news and post an article for a large group of teenagers to stay informed on important social issues in the world. This allows students to not only be exposed to current events, but to discuss the issues with one another and develop better critical thinking skills.

Many parents have their own Facebook pages and befriend their children and their children’s closest friends on the website in order to keep in touch with what’s going on in their lives. Interestingly enough, most teenagers are receptive to this idea and may even add you to their family tree page. Joining the social networks is a way for you to not only monitor your tweens and teens, but also to strengthen your relationship with them by getting to know their interests and everyday thoughts. Your child may not want to sit down and talk to you all the time, but as long as they let you read their tweets you can be sure to never feel out of the loop.