So you spotted incomprehensible emojis in a text conversation your teen had and you're wondering what they meant.
We can help!
Emojis don't come with explicit meanings and they are open to interpretation, which is why they're so popular as a communication form.
But, because they mean different things to different people and very much rely on context (as this study proves), be aware that your teen's text may, in fact, be less innocent than you think.
We have compiled a few of the emojis more commonly used when sexting. As language develops, so does the meaning of these popular little images, so this is by no means a definitive guide.
Also, they are most often used in combination with each other and with other emojis to invoke situations or create stories or messages.
If these images make you suspect your teen is sexting, see an expert's advice below.
Other popular emojis and their potential interpretations:
- Flirting face = Flirting
- Banana = Undressing, penis
- Fire = Hot, sexy
- Taco = Female genitalia
- Tongue = Oral sex
Does this mean my teen sexting?
We asked wellness coach and founder of explorare.co.za Kate Rowe what parents should to do if they suspect their teen is sexting, and her emphatic answer was: "Talk with them!"
But first, how would you know? Can you really tell from the messages on their phones?
Rowe says this is always a tricky one because messages can be deleted.
"I would start with agreements around what is okay and not okay to be sharing."
"Again it comes down to talking with them on all these topics. Be curious. Turn towards your teenager, find ways to open conversations, be available and willing to listen to what they say," she suggests
Should I worry?
"If you have a concern about your teen, talk with them," Rowe stresses again.
"Find ways to build connection and grow the trust between you. Having a connected relationship with your teen is one of the biggest influencing factors on your teen's behaviour and being able to guide and support them."
Rowe says parents should be open to having what may be uncomfortable conversations.
"Notice what comes up for you when you think about your teen sexting. Feel, listen to your internal dialogue, and talk to someone you trust before engaging with them. Especially if you find yourself feeling a lot of anger, worry, frustration and disappointment when you think about the situation."
Do you suspect your teen is sexting? Is it a concern? What are you doing about it? Let us know!
Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback @ parent24.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.