Leave it to teens to be as sneaky as they can. Let’s break down emojis and teens and how they use them to talk in code.
Teens are sneaky, especially online. And today’s technology allows them to be super sneaky. There are apps on their smartphones that they can use to hide pictures and conversations that are disguised as calculators or other innocent-seeming apps. There are ways they learn to sneak around time restrictions on various apps. And they have conversations that seem innocent enough that are actually anything but.
Teens & Emojis: Not That Innocent
I remember, as a kid, trying to always be one step ahead of my parents. It’s sort of an innate part of being a teenager, isn’t it? Thinking that you are smarter than your parents, even though they’ve already been there and done that. And when teens get caught? Well, they find sneakier ways to do the same things they’ve been doing… Just on the sly. Texting with friends is no different. If teens get caught texting about sex- or sexting- they know they will get in trouble. So what do they do? They find a way to text about sex that feels far more innocent than it is. The same goes for teens talking about drugs. You likely won’t find them texting a friend “can I buy some pot from you?” But would you know what it meant if your teen texted someone the maple leaf emoji?
Teens & Emojis: Let’s Talk about Sex
Let’s start with sexting. If your teen is texting someone a lot of edible emojis, you may have reason to be concerned.
An eggplant 🍆 (or sometimes a 🍌 ) is used for male genitalia, and a taco 🌮 for female genitalia. Grapes 🍇 also accompany male genitalia, and a peach 🍑 can be code for butt. Cherries 🍒 means breasts. A camel 🐫 , which is new to me, is slang for sex. Because a camel has a hump, so texting someone a camel means “I want to hump you.” A tongue 👅 with an eggplant 🍆 or taco 🌮 can signify oral sex, and a hand 🖐🏻 next to an eggplant 🍆 or banana 🍌 means a hand job. Sweat droplets 💦 are sometimes used to represent an orgasm. Sweat droplets preceding a raised fist 💦 👊 is used to represent masturbation. And an eyes 👀 emoji can be used to suggest or request someone send you an illicit photo. All of the above emojis are commonly used when teens are looking to engage in a sexual encounter. But there are more emojis that can be used to symbolize more sexual activities and so. For example, two females wearing bunny ears 👯♂️ can represent sex workers. A circus tent 🎪 represents an erection. A dizzy face 😵 means someone just saw something x-rated.
Is your head spinning yet?
Teens & Emojis: Drugs
If you think the list of emojis teens are using to represent sex is confusing, wait until I tell you all the emojis they are using to talk about drugs.
An electric plug 🔌 is used to represent someone dealing drugs. A snowflake ❄️ can mean cocaine (although it can also refer to someone who is flaky). A tree 🌳 , an herb 🌿 , fuel ⛽️ or a gas pump, broccoli 🥦 or a four-leaf clover can all mean marijuana. The cloud of dust or dashing away emoji symbolizes vaping. A pill 💊 reportedly is used by drug dealers when they have heroine for sale, and a face with steam coming out the nose is used when they have MDMA for sale. A maple leaf 🍁 can be used for marijuana or for drugs in general. A drooling face represents Ecstasy.
Teens & Emoji: Context Matters
It’s important to remember that if you find some of these emojis in a conversation on your teen’s phone to let them explain first. Although it may be hard to imagine why your teen might send someone an eggplant emoji, because really, why would you send an eggplant emoji and not have it mean penis, your teen may have an explanation. I personally eat a lot of bananas, and, sometimes, when my husband runs into Kroger and texts to see if I need anything, I do send back a banana emoji and the meaning is, quite literally, that I am requesting he purchase bananas.
The important things to remember when it comes to teens and hiding information is to try and keep the lines of communication open. Don’t rush to conclusions, don’t assume the worse and do let your teen explain. Sometimes the benefit of the doubt is all it takes for them to open up.
Remind your teen that, if they are repeatedly receiving texts or messages with these emojis, it can be a form of cyberbullying if the texts are unwanted. Suggest that your teen block the sender. You can also screenshot if need be as proof your child is being harassed if it doesn’t stop. As we parent in the digital age, it is important that we remind our teens that unwanted sexual advances are still unwanted, even if they are done passively over text message.