This generation of children is more tech-savvy than ever, and they can rarely function without their gadgets like smartphones and laptops. Children do many of their activities online, such as playing games, school research, watching shows/series, chatting with friends, etc.
It’s on some of these online platforms that you may be seen them using terms such as ASL. But what does this mean and is it something you should be worried about? As we’ll see with ASL, the answer can be quite complicated. Let’s find out more.
ASL in Text: Decoding the Abbreviation’s Meaning
ASL is an abbreviation commonly used in chatrooms and in this context, it means “age, sex, location”. A lot of chat users ask others their ASL since it is a simple way to start a conversation. It immediately gives a lot of information, but it can also be used for darker reasons too.
The abbreviation ASL may come off as harmless since it only helps people online know who they are talking to. But if predators use this term to gather information on innocent users, then it can eventually pose a problem.
With “age, sex, location,” understanding it is all about context. Most of the time it’s an innocent way to know the age and gender of the person you are speaking to and where they are in the world.
But before we jump to a conclusion, there is another definition too which has become more common in recent years.
Unmasking ASL: What Does it Really Mean?
This slang is often used when someone online wants to find out the other user’s age, gender, and location. It’s simply a way to start a conversation with someone you just met, especially on an anonymous chat.
Another slang meaning of ASL is “as hell”, which is a common sight when scrolling through the comments on TikTok videos. The term is considered a contraction and is also used in online chats away from TikTok.
Want to be confused even further? Well, ASL can also mean American Sign Language. As we mentioned above, understanding ASL is all about understanding the context it was written.
ASL Through the Ages: Tracing the Evolution of Online Communication
With the age/sex/location meaning, no one really knows who created the term or where it originally came from, but it became extremely popular in the late 1990s. It was a time when people from all over the world began connecting and communicating in online chatrooms.
There is generally nothing wrong with sharing such details. Often, users ask for ASLs because of the following reasons:
- They want to know the sex of the person they are speaking with because they are more comfortable communicating with females/males.
- Some users are more comfortable interacting with a specific age range, so they ask for the other user’s age.
- As for location, this is usually just through simple curiosity and can be a good conversation starter. It can also be important when working out the time zone of the person you’re speaking to.
ASL in Online Interactions: Beyond the Surface
There are a couple of ways your kids can use ASL on different social media platforms, so we’ve listed a few examples for your reference.
ASL on Snapchat
This social media platform is a quick go-to among users where they can share messages and pictures instantly. Teens often use slang to avoid lengthy messages, hence, why they use ASL while chatting on Snapchat.
Example 1: Using ASL to Acquire Other User’s Information
Terry: Hey! You popped up on my suggested list.
Maegan: Hey there, what’s up?
Terry: I’m all good, thanks! How about you?
Maegan: Doing good too. Can I get your ASL?
Example 2: Using ASL as “as hell”
Jonathan: You know? I woke up today with a headache and famished ASL!
Keith: You better slow down on drinking booze then.
ASL on TikTok
On TikTok, ASL is more popularly used as “as hell” together with a hashtag on the TikTok video. In direct chats within the platform, people also use ASL to know the personal information of other users. Since it means “as hell”, the slang can be likened to how you’d use “seriously” or “like crazy”.
“I’m tired ASL” means the person using the term is extremely tired.
The abbreviation can also be used together with a TikTok video description. It can be used with or without a hashtag. This is how it can look with a hashtag: #cringeASL or #spicyASLfood etc.
Cultural Context: ASL’s Role in Digital Communication
Although we don’t really know who created this term, it became popular in early forums and internet chatrooms as another icebreaker.
It is generally used in more casual conversations among users who want to know more about each other. Using this often sparks off conversations related to geographical proximity and interests.
The term can also work as a tool to bring about connections in online chatrooms. It can help users search for networking, friendships, and sometimes, even romantic relationships.
The New Normal: ASL’s Integration into Modern Vernacular
As mentioned earlier, ASL, which is written as A/S/L at times, is a term for age, sex, and location. IMs (instant messengers), chat rooms, or online gaming communities often use the term to ask for details of another user instead of typing each word individually.
ASL became a common term for starting conversations, and the recipient would respond in a similar manner. Here is an example of such interactions:
GeekGamer1502: Hey, ASL?
Poeteitoes11407: 20/F/NYC, you?
Throughout the years, ASL evolved as online chatting methods and platforms changed. With the continuous growth and popularity of social media, everyone can have public profiles that display information such as their age, gender, and location.
Because of these, ASL inquiries are reduced, but ASL is still necessary in less regulated, anonymous chat rooms. The decrease in need for ASL in this way has led to a rise of it being used as a replacement for “as hell”.
Interpreting ASL: From Text Slang to Real-Life Conversations
Interpreting ASL will depend on the context it is used. If you’ve seen it on a TikTok comment, then it probably means “as hell”. However, if they have been asked this through an anonymous chat, then it’s more likely someone wants to know more details about them.
It’s important to understand all the factors before making a judgment and it’s best to ask your child if you are concerned. For example, there is much less chance of someone immoral asking your child this on a gaming platform than an unregulated anonymous chatroom.
Parental Perspective: Understanding ASL in Teen Communication
The language of the younger generation can be challenging to decipher, and it even becomes more difficult with online slang. But despite this, knowing the terms helps you understand the evolution of language around us.
Understanding how your kids are interacting online is a vital way to ensure their safety from online predators and cyberbullies. Asking for one’s ASL can become an opening for catfishing, a situation where an online user poses as someone else who provides false and misleading information.
Even during modern-day online communication, catfishing can still pose a risk since it has dangerous real-world implications, especially if your child is particularly young.
Fostering Communication with Family Orbit
If you discover that your child is using ASL slang, it’s best to be cautious. Consider it a red flag since your child may be chatting with potentially dangerous people. However, also remain calm, as there is most likely a completely innocent reason behind it.
In the digital age, it’s ideal to have a parental control app on your kids’ phones to be able to supervise their online habits. An example is Family Orbit, which works with iOS and Android.
Installing a parental control app like it will keep you updated about your child’s exposure to such risks. You can monitor multiple devices and view messages or website/call histories.
It has comprehensive features that you can take advantage of to know what’s happening within their activities.
Conclusion: Embracing ASL as a Language Bridge
By giving their ASL, your child is potentially giving someone dangerous information. While that’s true, they could well be using it in the context of “as hell” or just letting a potential gaming friend know more about them.
Don’t panic. Speak to your child to try and get a full picture and use tools such as Family Orbit to ensure they are safe. ASL is usually harmless but as parents, we need to be vigilant and ensure our kids are staying safe.