Learning the language: Do you know what these new emojis mean?

By: George Anthony Kulz

Take this video quiz with your kids to test your emoji knowledge, and use it as a prompt to talk about communicating in the digital age.

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New Emojis | What Emojis Mean

I’m not very big on using emojis. Having been on the internet since the mid-1980s, the novelty has worn thin on me, and I rarely use them anymore except to stick an occasional smiley face at the end of a text or email. My own kids, like me, mostly use them to convey emotion at the end of a text. Which made me wonder, has the popularity of emojis already come and gone?

As it turns out, the answer is emphatically no.

Surprisingly, their use is definitely alive and well online. Just a casual drop into my social media accounts quickly showed me they’re everywhere—so much so that I’ve apparently taken their appearance for granted. Out of all the people currently online, more than 90% use emojis.

New emojis are being created all the time. This year alone, 37 new emojis are being introduced as part of the standard set of emojis. When I look at emojis, I find some of them confusing, which might trouble some parents who try to decode the symbols to figure out what their kids are saying. But according to a worldwide Slack survey, over half of respondents—58%—were unaware of certain emojis having various meanings. With such widespread and growing use, it’s worth checking in from time to time with your kids about how they use emojis, and what emojis mean, according to their knowledge.

Take this video quiz together and test your knowledge of what emojis mean, and then use it as a prompt for ongoing conversation about learning how to communicate in the digital age.

New Emojis Quiz | What Emojis Mean

New emojis in 2022

For example, one new emoji is a picture of a troll. I’ve spent enough time online to guess what this one represents—a hater who has nothing better to do than to pick a fight with other people.

Another one—a face with a dotted outline and a straight mouth—is a little more difficult to figure out. For me, anyway. But I’m a parent. Your kids will likely know it means the author may be feeling invisible, or small, or even depressed.

Something else that surprised me is that kids use emojis differently from how their parents or even millennials typically do. Older generations use them to convey the emotion of what they just texted or wrote.

Kids today, however, use emojis in more fun or ironic ways. For example, if I want to convey that I’m lost in thought, I would add the thinking-face emoji ?. However, that same emoji, when used by a kid, may indicate a sarcastic dig when they question someone else’s opinion posted online.

How to find out what emojis mean

How can you possibly navigate the ever-changing world of emojis, especially if you’re not familiar with them in the first place? Searching online is a great place to start. You can also look for emojis in social media and pay attention to how they’re being used, and, from the context, perhaps pick up their meaning.

Parent tip: A nonprofit group, The Unicode Consortium, decides which emojis stay or go away. To find an emoji’s definition, check emojipedia.org.

But even after all my experience and research, I’ve still found that the best way to figure out what you’re unsure of is to ask your kids what emojis mean. You might even try expanding your question into a discussion.

Let’s talk about emojis:

  • Ask your kids what an emoji means.

  • Then, ask for examples of how they might use it.

  • Share whether you guessed the same meaning and if you would use it differently.

  • Got an idea for a new emoji? Anyone can submit a concept for a new one.

Discussions like these can help you and your kids better understand each other and perhaps find some new and fun ways to communicate. Try it out together.

Manage more calls, texts and emojis with Smart Family.

About the author:

George Anthony Kulz is a husband and father of four children. By day, he works as a software engineer at a university. By night, he writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. He is also an editor at Your Teen for Parents magazine.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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