by Liv Lawson

Editor’s note: This article may contain topics that small children should not read.

Emojis have become part of our everyday language. We all do it: a quick face blowing a kiss to your spouse, a laughing face to a friend after a funny story or a thumbs up instead of texting sounds good. Emojis have grown from a convenient way of indicating a joke into nearly a complete form of communication. An important part of digital parenting is understanding and knowing this form of communication so you can spot if your child is being bullied or up to no good before it gets too far.

According to, there were 2,283 emojis as of June 2018 that convey information across language, culture, lifestyle and diversity. The emoji sequences include for gender, skin tones, flags and more. Emojis have evolved with the current times. Throughout 2019, there are plans for even more emojis, including new colors for hearts, a diving mask, a Hindu Temple, a flamingo, a deaf ear, a man and a woman in a wheelchair, a service dog and even a waffle.

If your kid has a cellphone, you’ve seen the crazy abbreviations and emojis they use to communicate via text messaging. This secret language can be used for hiding something from parents: sex, drugs, bullying and even physical violence. Some symbols can be easily translated but without context, they may be a little trickier. Emoji can appear innocent, but they mean something completely different, like the frog is used to call someone ugly.

The devil and the salsa dancer in the red dress both mean feeling sexy. The peach, the taco and the eggplant are often used in a sexual content to refer to the buttocks and the female and male genitalia. Two wide eyes sent could mean they want the receiver to send naked pictures. But emoji can also be paired together to mean something completely different, like a movie camera, a popcorn emoji and a snowflake means “Netflix and chill”. This means more than watching a movie with a buddy on the couch. According to Urban Dictionary, “Netflix and Chill” means to engage in sexual activity.

Drugs & Alcohol
A pill is used for Heroin and a snowflake means cocaine due to its street name of ‘snow’. Several emojis can mean the same thing: broccoli, a maple leaf and a strand of leaves all refer to marijuana. Footprints can mean beer and a flower can mean drugs.

Bullying & Violence
A fox emoji followed by a face with a zipper across the mouth means “I want to sneak out, don’t tell.” Threatening violence can be sent as a pair of scissors or a knife, meaning “I’m going to cut you.” A running person combined with a bowling ball means “I’m going to hit you.”

With technology always moving forward, it can be hard for parents to keep up with everything our kids are doing. It might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the meanings of emoji. You can do so with a quick internet search but is a good resource, as well. And of course, keep a healthy, open relationship with your teen so you can talk with them about emojis and what they really mean. Sometimes, just asking can get you an honest answer and then you’re not left assuming the worst.