Teenagers have always seemed to have their own language only they understand. Unlike their parents though, teens can use emoji rather than letters or words to be able to communicate through code.
Emoji are images similar to comics that are options within messaging apps, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services. Some emoji though are not what many parents would think, at least on first glance. They can be used as code-words to hide conversations about drugs and sex.
You won't find many teenagers willing to break the code for parents but one teen gave me some clues to the more popular emoji used in twitter and texts.
A BBC investigation found that drug dealers often use emoji as a way to advertise and sell their products. The emoji of a pill means heroin, the snowflake emoji could stand for cocaine and the drooling smiley face has been found to stand for ecstasy or the drug commonly known as Molly. Emoji of a bushy tree and leaves often are used as a reference to marijuana.
Another emoji of a gas pump is also code for pot. An arrow pointed down alongside a gas pump or tree often means 'I'm down for a smoke'. The emoji titled "dashing away" is an image of a gust of air. Sometimes it means someone is looking to vape or smoke. If it’s paired with the smooching face, it could mean they are smoking right now.
The wind face is also sometimes used to tell someone they are smoking or plan to smoke. If it is paired with the bushy tree, leaves, or broccoli it may convey someone who wants to smoke marijuana.
When it comes to sex, teens use fruit and vegetable emoji to refer to men and women's body parts. Celery, a carrot, or eggplant are famously used to refer to men's genitalia while a peach refers to a woman's backside. The emoji of a taco also can represent the female anatomy.
When those images are texted alongside the eyeball emoji it can be a request for a nude selfie while the tongue emoji combined with those fruit and vegetable emoji may be a request for oral sex.
Some teenagers are taking their secret codes to another level by using Japanese emoticons which are almost impossible to decipher. A worldwide consortium of professionals in the technology industry come up with and approve of new emoji. The Unicode Consortium is set to unveil new emoji in October and will be released for use next year.