What the emojis on your child’s texts might actually mean, according to police

Kids emoji smartphone – Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Police have launched a campaign warning parents and teachers of a “secret world of emojis” used by teenagers to refer to drugs and sex.

Surrey Police said young people are using the icons to disguise text conversations on taboo subjects from their parents and guardians.

They also suggested that drug dealers could be using the tactic to encourage teenagers to take drugs, become a drug trafficker or deal themselves.

The officers urged parents to become “emoji aware” and shared graphics of commonly used icons on its social media pages to encourage adults to guess their hidden meaning.

Police revealed that there were a total of 14 icons that can represent cannabis, including a four-leaf clover, leaf emoji, a lemon, a bunch of grapes, a watermelon, a strawberry, cherries, a pineapple, a dog, a dessert, a cake, an ice cream or a biscuit.

Cocaine is represented by a nose icon, a fish, gas pump, snowman, or snowflake, while ecstasy is depicted using a devil, skull, alien, or tentacled monster icon .

Ketamine and nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, are represented using the horse and balloon icons, respectively.

Surrey Police have also revealed that young people may be using emojis to distinguish between different methods of taking drugs, such as a pill icon being used to represent drug ingestion while a syringe could symbolize injecting.

Purity levels are also reportedly indicated using different graphs, with scale expressed using the fist emoji, a rocket, lightning, explosion, fire, and bomb.

Drug dealers themselves are represented by the eight ball emoji, eye icon, or a power outlet.

The list wasn’t limited to drug use. The sexting was masked by emojis like cherries, water splashes, eggplants and peaches.

Parents have urged not to snoop on children’s phones

Surrey Police have warned that while parents are right to be concerned if they spot these emojis on their child’s phone, the icons may not necessarily indicate the youngster is engaged in abuse.

The force suggested keeping an eye on their broader conduct, such as changes in mood or performance in school, and becoming increasingly reserved.

The officers stressed that they are not suggesting parents check their children’s phones as this could lead to a breakdown of trust.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Hyder, from Surrey Police, said: ‘We really want parents and guardians to feel safe having a conversation with their children about this if and when they need to.

“Our focus on this doesn’t stop with the end of this initial campaign. We will continue to work with local partners to extend the emoji conversation.

“We are also aware that emoji and their alternative meanings are something that will constantly change, so our work and research on this will continue.”

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