Decoding the hidden meanings behind emojis

6 News Cyber Safety

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – There are more than 3,600 emojis to choose from and while they all look like friendly images, they may have a double meaning.

To parents, broccoli, a flower or a peach emoji may not mean much, but experts say this can translate to weed, drugs or a sexual reference.

“It’s almost like trying to learn a new language from drugs, to money, to a lot of different things.”

Sgt. Thomas Gladney III is a detective with the Michigan State Police. He says parents should know some emojis are sexual. “One that everyone’s kind of run across is [that] the eggplant emoji typically means male genitalia but not always, but when paired with other things that can be used by kids to convey messages back and forth.”

Gladney says decoding this language isn’t easy and meanings can change based on where you live. “There are no hard rules when it comes to it. I might talk to some kids in the Lansing area and talk to some kids in Grand Rapids and they have completely different meanings for different things.”

They’ve become such a common form of communication that police are getting extra training to help decode messages.

“I’m able to go to a court typically we know these things mean this feeling or action and we can describe that and use the context of the situation to ascribe meaning of their words.”

In the world of hidden meanings, the best advice Gladney has is this:

“The most important thing parents need to know is to have open lines of communications with their kids.”

With new emojis added every so often, experts say this language is sure to evolve but there are resources parents can check out.

“I would say michiganicac.com. We post all kinds of pamphlets and other types of information for them to use.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Michigan Headlines

More Michigan

StormTracker 6 Radar