Why Does My Child Keep Saying They Are AFK?

What the abbreviation stands for and when to use it (and when not to use it!) We will explain what AFM means.

AFK: What does it mean? I will openly admit to anyone who asks me that I’m not great with current trendy slang. I still use LOL like it’s going out of style, much to the dismay of my 12-year-old, who routinely says “Mom, no one even says that anymore. Ever. Except you.” Then she rolls her eyes at me. If I dare to remind her how cool I actually am, she follows up her eye rolls with a casual “Okay boomer,” even though I am a very proud (and old) Millennial. Kids are fun. The other day, I texted her to ask what she was up to because she was staying at a friend’s house and I wanted to check in. She responded with “We are watching Friends reruns, WBU?” I literally asked six different people what that meant (all Millennials) and no one knew. Later, she smugly said “obviously it means What About You. Everyone texts it, Mom.” Oh, Gen Z. I have so much to learn.

In reading up on acronyms kids might use when referring to gaming and beyond, I stumbled upon AFK. Although the term originated in the gaming world, it has become more common in a variety of settings, including texting.

Ron Kerbs 9

AFK: What does it Mean?

The term simply stands for Away From Keyboard. It means a person or player has stepped away from the computer for a period of time. These are some examples of how to use it in a sentence:

  • I’ve got to help set the dinner table, I’m going AFK for a bit.
  • Homework calls. I’m AFK.
  • I let Adam know I would be AFK but he still sent me 10 messages.

Another great example would be my daughter telling me “Gosh, mom, don’t text me. I’m going to be AFK for your texts.”


AFK has become more common to use in places beyond the gaming sphere. Whereas this acronym used to largely be used to let other gamers know you might be inactive for a time, it is now common to use in the workplace or in text messages. You might notify coworkers on Slack you’ll be AFK while you have lunch or enter a meeting. Or, if you are texting with someone and have to go to class or attend a work function, you might say “I’ve got to go AFK. Can we resume this conversation in an hour?”

Being AFK in a game

If you will be AFK in a game for a short period of time, it generally isn’t a big deal. For example, if your child wants to run to the kitchen to grab a snack or has to let the dog out, chances are it won’t matter. However, there are games in which being AFK too long will result in the player being booted from the game. In Minecraft, for example, being AFK can sometimes get you kicked out of the game. Many servers are set up to book inactive players after 15 minutes. However, others use AFK players to their advantage. Some Minecraft servers allow inactive players to stay in the game indefinitely.

Being AFK in Minecraft

Some Minecraft players like to use AFK time to fish. Fishing, both in real life and in the game, as it turns out, can be long and arduous and may not always give you the results you are looking for. So many players set up an AFK fishing farm to benefit their avatars and overall game performance while they are unable to actively play. Find a great tutorial for that here.

Since I’m not personally a Minecraft player, I think I will find a way to incorporate it into my everyday speak and see how quickly I can annoy my daughter. I’ll tell her I didn’t get her Starbucks order in time to get her a drink because I was AFK or that I didn’t know the bus had dropped her off because I was AFK and I’m so sorry she had to walk home. I predict I will get a solid two uses in before I get a lecture on how uncool I am…