Emojis and Memes – What They Mean, From a Parent’s Perspective

If you have children between eight and twenty-eight, chances are you’ve seen memes and emojis eclipse many electronic conversations, especially casual interactions on the Internet and text message spectrum. These two concepts may seem as though they are exclusive to children, teens and millennials but that is not entirely accurate. As a parent, you can learn the language of memes and emojis to successfully facilitate communication with your children and better relate to them. Let’s start with the basics of this popular Internet lingo:

Emoji: e·mo·ji /ēˈmōjē/ (noun): A small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.
Emojis, which have been standard on phones since iOS 5 was launched for iPhones and 6.0.1 was launched for Android, are mostly used in the context of text messages between two people or group chats. Their purpose is to add a fun, visual element to messages and make feelings and emotions in the conversation clear. The great thing about emojis is that most of them are quite self-explanatory and can be used in many different ways. Many emojis are facial expressions, while others are common images that we see in our daily lives such as food, nature, animals, buildings, and household items.

A good site for finding the meaning of any emoji you are confused about is Emojipedia. You can search any emotion such as “mad” or “laughing” and the result of the appropriate emoji to use will pop up. Then when you use them frequently, your favorites will be stored in the first tab of your emojis on your phone, so you will be able to find them easily. There are even tabs of all the emojis in different categories on the website that you can browse at your leisure. Emojis are commonly used in other digital contexts, such as social platforms (like Facebook’s reaction buttons as well as on Instagram and other platforms).

Meme: /mēm/ (noun): a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.
A meme is most often a picture of something related to pop culture that has a funny caption. They are often very relatable to a large population sector, which is the basis of their appeal. To familiarize yourself with popular memes and trends about memes, visit Know Your Meme, which is an entire database dedicated to explaining the meaning and cultural significance of memes. There are numerous websites and collections of humorous and inspirational memes created just for moms – a simple Google search will yield thousands of them and put a smile on your face.

The Internet is the best source for decoding the meaning of memes because the Internet is where the concept of the meme was born. If you are feeling adventurous and want to create your own meme, there are many sites that generate memes. For example, Imgflip or Meme Generator will allow your meme creativity to flow.

Communicating With Your Kids
For successful communication with your children using modern Internet and texting tools, be sure to vocalize any confusion you have about what they are sending. That way, they can clear up their message. Now, you can rest easy knowing that your usage of all the emojis and memes are up to snuff. You don’t want to end up sending emojis in an embarrassing way, like some parents have.

Emojis and memes are not as inaccessible to parents as they seem. All that is required to connect with your children and teens through these methods of communication is some general knowledge and a willingness to get in on the trend. They are sure to spice up your parent/child conversations and add lighthearted humor to your relationships!


Heidi Raker, mother of three tech-obsessed teens, has written about lifestyle products and parenting for over 30 years. She has a no-cellphone-at-meals policy, which remains one of her biggest family challenges.