13 November 2018Last updated


The secret life of a teenager

Ever feel like your teenage son or daughter is speaking a different language and communication has become almost impossible? Dubai-raised student, 18-year-old Karina Sharma, pinpoints the thoughts and feelings that almost all teenagers experience, and translates them

Karina Sharma
17 Aug 2015 | 02:20 pm
  • Do you understand your teenager?

    Source:Getty Images

“I need space”

It’s been scientifically proven that a mother’s hug has special healing powers. But sometimes, a teen doesn’t want to feel better. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes we just need to lie on our bed and listen to depressing music. “Leave me alone” might be three of the most heartbreaking words for a mother to hear, but giving us the time and space we need to work through our roller coaster of emotions 
is very important.

“You don’t understand”

This well-worn teen cliché often translates to “I don’t understand”. It’s hard to describe what we’re feeling, especially since most of the time we ourselves don’t know how we feel. So when our mums can’t seem to follow our train of thought, we get frustrated and use this phrase as our reasoning. We teens often feel like the whole world is against us and no one can understand the troubles we’re going through, but in reality, everyone has been there at one time or another, even our mothers. But sometimes, we just can’t explain it. All we need is patience.

“My sibling and I are good at different things”

It may not be a conscious action, but it’s easy for parents to compare their kids. When a compliment is used against a sibling, though, it can be difficult for the one left out. “He got straight As this semester. Why can’t you work as hard as your brother?” can cause feelings of guilt instead of pride. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and pitching your children against each other can hurt their relationship and yours. We need you to honour each of our achievements individually and to resist the temptation to use a sibling to exemplify the type of behaviour you want to see in the other child.

“Stop trying to control me”

As a mum, you don’t want to see your child fail. But we need the chance to make our own decisions and deal with the consequences. Let us make mistakes, fall in love, laugh, cry. Just knowing we always have your arms to return to when we need to is the greatest help of all.

“I’m only a teen once”

As much as I cringe at the term YOLO, it’s a massive part of our generation. Believe it or not, teens fear getting older just like mums do. Once we hit 20, it’s as if we can’t be the carefree teenagers we once were. 
We start gaining more responsibilities and life starts to feel like it’s moving too fast. The teenage years are the time for us to have fun and act young while we still can. Trust us. Love us. Have faith in us. You’ve taught us well.

Keeping up with the teens

‘Facebook is sooo 2014’. If you’re feeling out of the loop, here’s a rundown on the latest in youth social media and whether or not you should worry about it.



An app that enables you to send photos and videos that disappear after a time limit of up to 10 seconds.

Reasons to worry: Teens may use this to send inappropriate images, thinking the photo isn’t permanent (but nothing ever truly disappears from the web).

Reasons not to worry: Most teens use it to send goofy pictures to their friends. When someone takes a screenshot of the image, they are alerted. The only people who can Snap to them are the friends they have accepted.

Yik Yak

Yik Yak

Especially big on college campuses, this is a social-networking app where you can post anonymous messages to people in a nearby area

Reasons to worry: Some messages can be rude, offensive and vulgar, because the posters are hiding behind a screen of anonymity. Also the teen’s location is known.

Reasons not to worry: Most teens don’t take it seriously and check it out to have a quick laugh (most posts are funny comments or observations people in the same area can relate to).



Potential matchmaking app with people in your area. Swipe right to “like” a photo or left to “pass”. If the other person also swipes right, you have a “match” and are able to talk.

Reasons to worry: Could be a confidence buster as it’s an app solely focusing on appearance. Also the teen’s location is known. 
Stranger danger.

Reasons not to worry: Most teens use it to just have fun looking at attractive people or to meet new people nearby around their age.



Social-networking app where users can post and watch six-second videos called vines on loop.

Reasons to worry: Vines can easily go viral and the default privacy setting is that everything is public – the videos you post and the comments you make.

Not to worry: They’re often funny and creative videos that just make your teen laugh and pass the time. When teens post videos, it’s usually them being silly with their friends.


Know the Lingo

Remember when you used to be au fait with all the playground slang? Yeah, that was a while ago… Here’s a quick glossary to update you on the latest in teen lingo…

Bae: Literally ‘before anything else’; used as a term of endearment or a way to describe a loved object.

Eg: ‘George Clooney is bae’.

On Fleek: Amazing, perfect, on point.

Eg: ‘That Dior purse is on fleek’.

Basic: When someone is unoriginal and only interested in mainstream things.

Eg: ‘Her music taste is basic.’

Slay: Don’t worry; no-one’s killing anyone. To ‘slay’ means doing something amazing.

Eg: ‘Taylor Swift always slays the red carpet.’

No chill: Someone who doesn’t know how to be calm/gets angry easily.

Eg: ‘The Hulk has got no chill.’

Squad: Your crew or posse.

Eg: ‘I’m going to get manicures with my squad.’

Ship: Not only a mode of water transportation any more, ‘ship’ is short for ‘relationship’; to want two people to be romantically involved.

Eg: ‘I’ll always ship Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’.

On the Grind: Working hard.

Eg: ‘This presentation for my boss has got me on the grind.’

Low key: A strange combo of words meaning something discreet; on the down-low.

Eg: ‘Low key, I still listen to Backstreet Boys songs.’

Karina Sharma

By Karina Sharma