They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But which words may not always be clear … especially when it comes to teens and emojis.
Teens are nothing if not inventive - and when it comes to carving out privacy from prying adult eyes, their creativity can be astounding … and often troubling.
The way teens use emojis in messaging and social media is a perfect case in point. Since the explosion in smartphone ownership over the past decade or so, young people have evolved a distinctive set of meanings for dozens of common symbols.
Some of this is just good fun - a harmless form of visual slang. In other cases, though, emojis are being used as a secret code to conceal dicey activity and thoughts - often sex- and drug-related - from parents, teachers and caregivers.
The following list is not exhaustive - but it will give you a good idea of the way our digital teens are developing a language all their own … and the need for parents to acquire fluency.
👍It looks like a sign of agreement or “liking.” But depending on context it can mean just the opposite: “F*#! You!”
🥑 Indicates someone or something is “basic.”
🐣 “I don’t care what you think.”
💫 “I feel dizzy.”
🍆, 🍌 Penis
🥴 Drunkenness or sexual arousal
🤡 “I’ve been busted!” (i.e. caught out)
🧠, 👅 Oral sex
🧢 A lie
💦, 🎤 Ejaculation, masturbation
🍃, 🌳, 🌱, 🥦, ✅ Marijuana
🍝 Indicates nudes (“noods”) being sent or received
👀 Nudes being seen or requested
🌶 “Hot” or risque content
💅 “I really don’t care”
❄️ An overly sensitive person (“snowflake”), or cocaine
🔌 Drug dealer
😤, 🤤 MDMA (“Ecstasy” or “Molly”)
😵 I’ve seen something x-rated
🙆 Female orgasm
😮💨 Smoking, vaping
✍️ “Take my advice!”
Social media isn’t a problem for every kid - only some of them. Five conversation starters from the American Academy of Pediatrics will ...
How does Big Tech really see your child? As a fledgling digital citizen to be nurtured? Or a pipeline to ever-greater profits?
On the fence about TikTok for your tween? These five facts might help you decide.