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“Abused Emoji” Help Kids Communicate Their Problems When Words Fail

The helpline goes beyond the phone call to the modern visual language in an important way.

So completely has emoji has become the language of the mobile age that you can now order a pizza with one. In fact, you’re probably wondering why the words you’re reading right now aren’t pictures of faces, thumbs, poop, and more.

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And while the kids are using emoji to talk about just about everything, Swedish nonprofit organization BRIS is hoping they’ll also use them to discuss their problems. The kids helpline has created Abused Emoji, cutesy images for the unhappiness, fear, and troubles children and teens may be facing.


The emoji includes black-eyed single-tear face, sad face with a bandage, angry mom and dad drinking, a baby getting slapped, a kid thinking about a skull, and more. It’s a bit jarring to see images originally intended for exclamation transformed into something so bleak, but it’s an interesting idea to give kids an accessible tool to express the difficult-to-say, assuming that kids will use them earnestly.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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