Sending messages with emojis is a quick, fun way for kids and teens to communicate. Adults love them, too. But like with secret text codes and new teen slang terms, there are some secret emoji messages that have a darker, more insidious side.
Kids are using emojis to bully other children, engage in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol, and even to solicit sex. Parents need to realize emojis can be illicit messages hidden in plain sight. While the actual image may differ between phone carrier or chat app that’s being used, the messages are the same. So, with that in mind, here are several emojis that have secret hidden meanings.
1. The Frog
What does the frog emoji mean? It looks like an innocent fairy tale reference to most parents, but it also means “You’re ugly.” This is an easy way to plant a negative comment in someone’s social media or a text thread.
2. Leaves & Flowers
Leaves — like a maple leaf — represent marijuana. Flowers are code for drugs of any kind. But, because flowers can also offer a sweet note, be sure to understand the context of the message before jumping to conclusions.
Any parent would naturally assume a syringe is used as a drug reference. And sure, maybe in some cases it can mean that. Like if the texter isn’t being creative. But for kids-in-the-know, a syringe is actually the code for tattoos.
A drug reference? Yes. However, more specifically, it’s for heroin.
5. Emoji Combinations — man running and a bowling ball
The emoji of a man running and a bowling ball is not about strikes and spares. It’s actually the message, “I’m going to hit you.”
6. Emoji Combinations — man running and scissors
Replace the bowling ball with the scissor emoji and you have “I’m going to cut you.”
7. Emoji Combinations — skull, arrow, flame
The combination of a skull, followed by an arrow, and a flame is saying, “I hope you die in a fire.”
Like the anagram KYS (kill yourself), these messages are dangerous tools being used to cyberbully.
No, it doesn’t mean, “You’re delicious! Especially on a salty chip!”
The avocado emoji is a way to ridicule people who are “basic.” Basic people are only interested in trivial and trendy things. They have no original thoughts of their own.
9. Silent Face
Used to intimidate, this is a way of saying, “Keep your mouth shut.” After all, if you have no mouth, you can’t speak.
10. Looking Eyes
Emojis can be invitations — but not all are polite and innocent. For instance, the looking eyes emoji is a way to request naked photos without directly asking for them. Like with flowers, the eyes can also mean one is curious or shocked, so understand the context before jumping to conclusions.
11. Dashing Away / Puff of Smoke
The puff of smoke represents dashing away. For teens who are trying to keep underage smoking on the DL, it references vaping and smoking.
When Should You Worry?
As we’ve noted, many emojis will have multiple meanings. It’s critical to make sure you understand the context of the post. Kids and teens can signal when parents are around with codes like 9, CD9, and Code9. Using KPC (keeping parents clueless) and 99 (parents gone) are red flags that require attention.
Are You Lost in Translation?
The websites Emoji Translate and Emojipedia are powerful tools to use to decipher the language of emojis. Hidden messages sent through emojis can change over time. It’s important to stay informed and do some research to keep on top of what’s trending. Don’t be afraid to be basic. It’ll mean you’re in the know.