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Parents slang it up, init! thx 2 the kids

  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of parents learning the latest slang from their children
  • 60-somethings: the 'Wicked' generation
  • 50-somethings having a 'gnarly' time
  • Over a third (34%) feel youth culture has a detrimental effect on today's society

Parents are increasingly picking up new words to add to their vocabulary, as seven in 10 (71%) parents are currently learning the latest slang from their children, according to research from leading family history website Genes Reunited.

The research, which looks at what parents are learning from their children and current youth culture, shows that slang and text speak are becoming even more the norm with adults. The slang word 'wicked' was the most commonly used with over half (52%) adopting it. Other popular slang words that are being taught to the older generation include*:

  • Wicked - very; really; totally cool: 'That shirt is wicked'
  • Sweet - good; profitable; excellent: 'I got involved in a sweet deal'
  • Sick - to be outclassed: 'looks sick'
  • Init - Abbreviation of is not it (isn't)
  • Safe - excellent: 'That's safe mate'

Different generations of adults appear to prefer different slang words, for example the most popular word for 60 to 70 year olds is 'wicked', whereas for those in their fifties 'gnarly' (slang term for something extreme, used in bad and good context**) is the new cool word. The latest 'buzzword' for the 40-somethings is different again, with the slang term 'boi' (meaning a young, handsome guy**) finding its way into the prose with 56 per cent having learnt it from their children.

Wot Txt Spk?

It's not just slang that adults are picking up from their children as text speak is becoming common among adults. The most popular abbreviations for the older generation are:

  • LOL - Laugh out loud
  • U - You
  • UR - Your
  • 2 - To / too
  • Omit letters - e.g. spk - speak, thx - thanks


Despite parents getting to grips with text speak, only half (49%) will accept their children texting them in this way and will always reply in good English. Surprisingly, 29 per cent of parents have embraced it and actually reply in text speak. Only 5 per cent claim to discourage text speak from their children and over a tenth (12%) do not text or email their children at all.

P's & Q's

The survey, which also looked at adults' perception of youth culture, shows that over a third of adults (34%) believe that youth culture today is having a detrimental effect on children in terms of manners, respect and social behaviour. Southerners believe that it is youth culture that has had the most (32%) detrimental effect compared to just 10 per cent of those in the Midlands. The research also found that 62 per cent of Britain's adults felt that teenagers today are more rebellious than anything they experienced as children.

Rhoda Breakell, head of Genes Reunited, comments: "British slang has a long history in England, it is said that it can be traced back to Shakespeare and Chaucer, the most famous slang of all being Cockney rhyming slang. "The results of this research shows that slang, in speech or text form, will continue to be passed down through the generations. The conversations we're having now with our children, and the vocabulary that we're using, will be the literary stamp of our generation. I wonder what future generations will make of it? Using a site like Genes Reunited you can discover similarities between different generations of your family, which is a fun and easy way to get into family history."

Notes to Editors:

Genes Reunited carried out a survey on 1,117 UK representatives on December 2010

Further statistics

Txt Spk

  • 71% of adults have been taught txt spk by their children
  • The North-east has the highest percentage of adults that will text their children/grandchildren back in txt spk (43%)
  • Adults in Wales are the most likely to accept a text in txt spk from their children/grandchildren but will reply in good English (67%)
  • People in the West Midlands are the least text and email savvy with 20% not texting or emailing their children or grandchildren


  • The most popular slang word with adults is 'wicked' (52%), followed by 'sweet' (32%), then 'sick' (24%) and 'innit' (22%)

Social Media

  • 57% of adults have been introduced to social media by their children
  • Adults in the South West have the highest percentage of people introduced to social media by their children or grandchildren (66%)
  • People in London are more likely to have known about social media before their children showed it to them (54%)

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Notes to the Editor - About Genes Reunited

Genes Reunited was launched in 2002 as a sister-site to the Internet phenomenon Friends Reunited. Since then it has grown to become the UK's largest genealogy website.

It marked a revolution in genealogy and ancestry by combining them with Internet social-networking. Members are able to build their family tree by posting it on the site and investigating which ancestors they share with other members. They can also search historical records such as census, birth, death, marriage and military records.

It currently has over 11 million members and over 750 million names listed. One new name is added to the site every single second.