Teens have always had unique ways of communicating with each other — just think of the slang terms that used to baffle your parents! However, with today’s teens absorbed in their smartphones, the codes they use to lay low are getting more elaborate and harder for parents to decipher. Here’s a guide to 40 emojis and teen texting codes parents should be aware of.
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.
While nowadays kids refer to the teen texting code as meaning “private chat,” the origin is much simpler: one-to-one. As in, let’s have a one-to-one conversation. This is considered “leetspeak,” or “leet” for short. It’s where a person replaces letters with numbers or other characters to form words phonetically.
3. 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.
4. 9, CD9, Code 9
Code 9 or its shorthand versions — CD9 or just 9 — all mean the same thing: “parents are here” or “parents are around.” This is a signal to keep the conversation “clean.”
Code 99 means parents are gone or no longer watching what’s being typed. It could mean nothing, but if the kid wasn’t doing something inappropriate, why would they need to tell the other person that their parents were away?
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.
Ironically, one of the most dangerous texts to send is TWD. It takes mere seconds for tragedy to happen. If you see that your child has sent this note, let them know that phones should stay out of reach while driving, and they can use the phone’s settings to notify others that they’re unavailable while driving.
8. Running Man & 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.”
9. Running Man & Scissors
Replace the bowling ball with the scissor emoji and you have “I’m going to cut you.”
Sound it out, like letters and numbers on a custom license plate, and you get the idea. Teens will take verbal swipes at each other under the guise of banter, but for many parents hate speech is not banter. Period.
11. 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.
Pleas for affection like this are desperate, and depending on how they’re used or who they’re sent to, they can invite the wrong type of attention. If you see this one, find out who the child is texting.
Pretty much says it all. Keeping parents in the dark can be exciting for teens, but hidden messages can have serious consequences. If you see this pop up, it might be a good idea to find out what’s up.
Like 121, it’s considered leetspeak even though the number combination doesn’t actually sound like a word or phrase when said out loud. According to NetLingo, “The code 1174 is usually sent via text message to indicate a meeting place for a party, for example ‘1174 Lake Abilene 2nite’ and is designed to make it look like an address.”
15. Pods & Clouds
Teens are vaping in increasing numbers, with Juul being the most popular brand. The terms come from either the pod containing the vaping liquid, or the cloud that is exhaled after taking a puff. Vaping is easily hidden, even in public spaces. Knowing the coded language teens use help parents stay aware of these dangerous habits.
The puff of smoke represents dashing away. For teens who are trying to keep underage smoking on the DL, it references vaping and smoking.
17. Lollipop or “Oh” Face
Other stand-alone emojis for oral sex include the lollipop and the “oh-face” emoji.
18. Banana, Chicken, Corn
Other emojis used to represent male genitals:
- Chicken (obviously)
19. Joystick, Rocket, Plug
There are some non-organic items used to refer to a guy’s penis as well. They include:
Like the eggplant for men, the taco emoji represents a woman’s genitalia.
21. Donut, Tiger, Honey Pot, Flower
Besides the taco, popular emojis used for woman’s genitalia are:
- Honey pot
A drug reference? Yes. However, more specifically, it’s for heroin.
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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
Jokes are funny — unless they’re about you or your kid. THOT is usually inserted into a text thread or social media post, and is a way to cyberbully and sew negativity and gossip. Often framed as a joke — like calling each other “bitches” and “hos” — it actually diminishes and demeans.
Sometimes, all you need to do is figure out what those initials stand for – the dirtier your mind, the better. However, this doesn’t always mean literal sex. Teens can send messages with little sense of what they are really inviting. Boredom, or a desire for companionship, can invite a situation that any teen is ill-equipped to handle.
“I like big [peaches] and I cannot lie!” You get the point. Like the eggplant, this is probably one of the most commonly recognized naughty emojis.
Other teen texting codes used in place of the word “butt”:
- Moons (of course)
“Everything I see reminds me of her.” Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun, as he sees a dual-domed nuclear power plant.
Other items that represent a woman’s breasts include:
- Toasting beer mugs
32. Pointed Finger & “OK” Hand
Using multiple emojis together, such as the pointed finger and the “okay” hand sign, indicates having sex. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Most of you knew this one by the time you hit elementary school. However, then things got creative (or kids just didn’t know how the body worked) with the next teen texting code.
33. Pointed Finger & Hot Dog
The pointed finger and hot dog emojis also symbolize sexual intercourse. Strange, but true.
34. Pointed Finger & Taco
The pointed finger and taco emojis make more sense. But the ultimate lesson here is that if the finger pointing emoji is visible, check out what’s next to it and let your naughty imagination do the work.
35. Train in a Tunnel/Camel/Roller Coaster/Mailbox
Single emojis such as the train in the tunnel (obviously), mailbox (get inside the “box”), camel (to hump), or the roller coaster (To go for a ride? We’re not 100% clear on that one.) are also commonly used to indicate sex.
The fist emoji by itself indicates masturbation.
37. Fist & Eggplant
The fist emoji followed by the eggplant (hot dog, taco, etc.) stands for manual stimulation — as in, someone is going to do it for you.
Other forms of sexual contact can be represented by a combination of hand and any object emoji combined together.
When it comes to teen texting codes, this one seems pretty obvious — but context is everything. The tongue emoji in combination with objects such as the eggplant, donut, taco or peach represents specific oral sex. That said, it doesn’t have to be so specific, either. Just the tongue indicates being ready for oral anything.
39. Water/Rain Drops
Drops of water aren’t about the weather here. It’s the climax we are talking about. (But you probably knew that one already.) Can be combined with any other emoji in this list.
The spread of smartphone technology to teens has created a library of elaborate teen texting codes for parents to watch out for. While context and intent are important to be aware of, it also pays to be aware of these potential codes in children’s text messages.