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Emojis Help Reach Teens

December 3, 2015
The emoji for the Ad Council's I Am A Witness Campaign combines an eye and a speech bubble.

What’s the newest type of slang these days? Some might answer: Emojis.

You’ve probably seen emojis on your smart phone or social media. Becoming increasingly popular over the last few years, emojis are the little pictures that often appear alongside text. People use emojis to express excitement, fear, disgust, surprise and other emotions. This growing trend of using emojis in digital communication has also inspired anti-bullying and anti-drug campaigns.

I Am A Witness

A recent software update on Apple iPhones included a new emoji that looks like an eye in a speech bubble as part of the "I Am A Witness" campaign against cyber bullying. Emoji-users are encouraged to use the icon as a response to cyber bullying.

[The emoji is now available on Android 6.0.1 and no longer available for separate download through Google Play.]

Cyber bullying has become so common with American teenagers that when asked about it, they often will label it drama rather than anything more serious. The Georgia Department of Public Health cites a study which found that 1 of every 5 high school students had been bullied in the past year, and 1 in 6 was bullied electronically. Among other ailments, bully victims often suffer from low self-esteem, isolation and depression. Victims of cyber bullying often face bullying in person as well, and can receive harmful text messages, emails and social media posts at any time of the day, among other forms of abuse. If you think your child might be the victim of bullying, check out this blog about child bullying and prevention.

With the “I Am A Witness” campaign, teenagers are empowered to take action for themselves and their peers. If they see a friend being bullied on social media or in a chatroom, for example, they might send the emoji with some helpful words like “Don’t worry about that. I think you’re great.” Feel free to check out the campaign's website and several social media accounts for more information.

An eye and a speech bubble. “I see what’s happening. I know what you’re doing and I don’t like it.” This picture might only mean a few simple words, but it can be worth thousands.

Drug-Free Kids

The "I Am A Witness" anti-bullying campaign was not the first time that emojis have been brought into the public safety scene. Earlier this year, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids introduced an anti-drug campaign written solely in these little emoji images.

Various forms of print and digital advertisements drive teens to a mobile-only website where everything is written in illustrated code. The campaign uses this technique to approach teenagers with understanding rather than accusation or scare techniques.

Emojis can be more than just cats with heart eyes. People now use emojis to help inform and support each other. In this content saturated digital age, a little encouragement and support never hurt!

Photo Courtesy The Ad Council

Last updated May 11, 2017.

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Interface designer for GeorgiaGov. She visually organizes information and writes blogs on a variety of government-related topics.

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