3 On Your Side Investigates: Chat Lingo, the new threat - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Chat Lingo, the new threat

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
BRANDON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Travis Jones and his sister Halee Lovorn of Brandon are just like other young people. Their devices are their primary means of communicating with their friends. And the main form of messaging isn't texting anymore, it's Snapchat.  

"It is a social media platform where you take a picture and send it, and it will be deleted right after you look at it," said Jones. 

And as you try to keep up with your child's social media world this year, forget about decoding those cryptic acronyms like POS for parents over shoulder. We asked what kids are using to communicate now. 

"Emojis, bit emojis, anything kind of picture form," Jones tells us. 

But beware parents. Don't always take those pictures, like the sweat and the fruit, at face value. They often mean something else. 

Jones provides us with an example.

"The peach emoji is sometimes used as a rear end," he said. 

It doesn't stop there. The watermelon, eggplant, ear of corn, shrimp, all represent body parts.  Put them together with lips or sweat, and that's a sexual act.

Halee, who is 15, actually learned what the emojis mean in school. An assignment required students to log in through their phones, and their social media names popped up on the screen for everyone to see. 

"They would have an emoji by their name and they weren't always good," she said. "And the teacher would say you can't have that, and she'd kick them out. And you start to understand, that's what they mean." 

Another threat is an app that allows young people to hide pictures and other things they don't want adults to see. The app looks just like a calculator. Halee says the pictures are password-protected. 

"It makes you cringe," she told us. 

Jay Houston with the Mississippi Attorney General's Office heads up the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and his job is to stay on top of social media coding. He says we should look through the apps with our children:  

"If that emoji does not fit the tone of the text message sent, then that emoji may not mean what you think it does," he said. 

Houston warns us not to allow our kids to prevent us from looking and asking questions. 

"If you're paying for the phone and they won't give you that code, they don't have that phone," Houston says. 
Travis and Halee's mom, Tawni, agrees. She also supports open discussions with her kids, and limiting their social media hours, especially at night. 

"We have family rules that everyone in the house is to follow," said Tawni. 

Helpful rules of thumb in a plugged-in world that's spinning faster every day. 

"It's gonna evolve if we make a solution. There's always gonna be a problem with social media," said Jones.

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