Decoding Teen Talk: What Your Children Are Really Saying


If you’ve heard the term "710 is the new 420” and didn’t know what it meant, don’t worry -- you’re not alone.

"It's the language of this generation; we talk like that all the time," explained Josh Kem, a 16-year-old junior at Big Walnut High School. "Depending on the context, they can mean just about anything, and that's what adults really just don't understand.”

Words like "ladder," "Netflix and chill," and "Facetime" are no longer defined by common knowledge.

"Netflix and chill means they're going to hook up, so it's a sexual term," explains Officer Nikki Riley, a school resource officer in Reynoldsburg. "So they'd say, ‘I'm going over to Billy's house to watch 'Netflix and chill'’ [instead of] ‘I'm going to go to Billy’s house and hook up.’"  Officer Riley, who has worked as a school resource officer for four years, says those terms and phrases are commonly overhead with kids as young as middle school.

But it's not just words, emojis are now part of the "teen code" talk that seems innocent on the surface, but have much deeper meanings. 

Officer Riley says the two most common emojis are the eggplant and peach. "And they're sexual,” she adds.  Those icons refer to male and female body parts.

Here are a few other translations:

Xanax is often replaced by ladders, school bus or bars.  The pills can sometimes look like candy bars; some appear bright yellow like school buses, while others have lines in the middle to mimic a ladder.

710 refers to marijuana, because the number flipped upside down spells out "OIL", which is THC, extracted from marijuana and concentrated into a smokeable high.

Chopper and strap refer to automatic weapons or guns

Facetime, give top and throwing neck all refer to oral sex.

Officer Riley says the "teen code" talk changes as fast as trends come and go.  The only way for schools, teachers, and parents to keep up is to keep their ears to the ground. 

"[Students will be] talking in the classrooms [and] think the teacher isn't paying attention, but when they keep hearing the same phrase, a lot of times they'll bring it to us,” Riley said.

Another big issue surrounding "teen code talk" is context.

For example, an emoji of a gas pump usually refers to marijuana.  Then, the gas pump is usually followed by a leaf emoji.  Officer Riley says any reference to a leaf usually refers to weed.

When Josh’s parents learned of the term, they were stunned that gas meant something other than fuel.

Some newer code words and phrases are more troubling to parents and police, like body count.

"When I first saw it coming out, I thought it was in terms of homicide, so when I started seeing it in context clues, I started figuring [it] out,” explained Officer Riley.  “They're talking about sexual partners.”

She says the best way to keep informed is to keep a close eye on your child's social media accounts - like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat - where pictures and hashtags tell more of the story than the word itself.

TOP WORDS TEENS USE (source: Operation Street Smart and Reynoldsburg PD)

  • Bars/ladders = Xanax
  • Body Count = Number of Sexual Partners
  • Lean/Purple Drank = Codeine
  • Chopper = Automatic Weapon/Gun
  • Facetime = Oral Sex
  • Give Top = Oral Sex
  • Catch It = Sex
  • Throwing Neck = Oral Sex
  • Robo/Robotrip = DXM Cough syrup
  • Thirsty = want to have sex
  • Netflix and chill = going to hook up
  • Strap = Gun
  • Work = Fight
  • Gas = weed
  • Molly = drugs
  • Bandz = money
  • 710 = oil = Marijuana
  • BC Bud = Marijuana
  • Dank = Term for High Grade Weed
  • Shatter = another term for extraction of THC, looks like honey
  • Wax = same as shatter
  • Rig (oil rig) = term used for smoking oils
  • Dabbing = term used for smoking the extractions
  • Gas pump + leaves (emojis)  = smoke marijuana
  • Eggplant + Peach (emojis) = sexual
  • Lean = Kool-Aid mixed with cough syrup, (same as purple drank)
  • Shard = term for smoking crystal meth
  • Dusting = term used for inhaling products (ie. bagging and Glading)