Emojis, Acronyms and Emoticons


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If you feel like reading text messages has become an exercise in code breaking, you’re right. Some people still send plain texts but many, especially kids, stuff their messages with abbreviations, acronyms, smileys and slang.

In the absence of body language, facial expression and tone of voice, symbols are a way to convey additional information about thoughts and feelings. Being aware of the secret language of texting — and talking about it now and then — creates one more opportunity for parents to help kids develop relationships that are healthy and rewarding.

To get a grip on what kids are saying, parents need to know the most common forms of code. 

Acronyms. Acronyms can be silly — ROLF (Rolling on the Floor Laughing), practical — BRB (Be Right Back) or subversive — 420 (using marijuana). A complete list of acronyms, including 50 that every parent should know, appears at netlingo.com. 


Emoticons. Using the characters on a standard keyboard, people have created thousands of clever combinations that transform into faces if you turn your head sideways. An exhaustive list is available at cool-smileys.com/text-emoticons. 

Emoji. Often used to refer to any tiny graphic that occupies the space of one character, emoji technically are the 722 characters that have been incorporated into the Unicode keyboard. (The consortium recently introduced 250 more characters, including faces with different skin tones). Companies are given latitude in interpreting the characters, so an emoji won’t necessarily look the same on Apple, Google, Twitter or Microsoft. Learn more at emojipedia.org.

Stickers. These graphic elements aren’t associated with the keyboard. Some are embedded in specific apps and won’t work anywhere else. Others can be purchased and pasted wherever you please. To avoid adware and other problems, be sure kids download free sticker apps only from trusted sources like the Apple Store or Google Play.

All of these elements enliven text messages. For parents, the question isn’t so much whether kids are using code but how.

Here are some things to consider:

Appreciate the creativity. Like music and painting, the images used in text are an effort to capture ideas and feelings that aren’t easily put into words. Deepen your child’s emotional intelligence by talking about the nuances of emotion in emoji faces.

Discuss ambiguity. Emojis and even acronyms are open to interpretation. Pop an acronym into acronymfinder.com and you’ll come up with multiple meanings. BYOB, for example, might mean bring your own beer or bike or even book. Emojis can also be misunderstood. In Japan, a pile of poo is regarded as good luck, though that isn’t necessarily the first thought that springs to mind in other countries. If you post a tiny fist are you threatening to punch someone or offering a congratulatory fist bump? Talk to kids about the risks of sending the wrong message and strategies for repairing miscommunication.

Consider intent. For most kids, adding code to text is simply a way to connect with friends. Still, parents need to be aware that acronyms in particular can be used to camouflage messages about illicit activities, including sex and drugs. Children need supervision so you can be sure they are texting only with friends who won’t lead them into situations they aren’t mature enough to handle.

Recognize limits. No matter how you dress them up, text messages won’t do justice to certain kinds of communication, including apologies, condolences or even gratitude. Remind your child that face-to-face communication is still the best way to make a heartfelt connection with another person.

Reiterate the rules. Texting of any kind should be subject to the usual rules about online communication, and be sure your child understands that texting privileges are contingent on following these rules.

• Don’t abuse or harass other people.

• Don’t talk to people you don’t know in real life.

• Don’t send sexually explicit messages.

Carolyn Jabs raised three computer-savvy kids, including one with special needs. Visit growing-up-online.com to read some of her other columns.

 

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June 2019

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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
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4709 Ten-Ten Road
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Cost: See website for fees

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Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

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514 E Williams St
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

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White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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946 Steeple Square Court
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Cost: $9/resident, $11/nonresident

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801 High House Rd.
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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Cost: Free

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5 E. Edenton St.
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319 S. Academy St.
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Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
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Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #124907.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Join Optimist Aquatic Center as thousands of kids and adults around the world unite for the world's largest swimming lesson. The World's Largest Swimming Lesson will celebrate its 10th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Optimist Aquatic Center
5902 Whittier Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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Show More...
Show Less...

Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
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Cost: Free

Where:
Pine State Coffee
1614 Automotive Way
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
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Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $12/person. Free for ages 2 and younger.

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Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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