Why tech experts are urging all parents to have a ‘secret emoji’ with their children
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If you have kids, talking in advance about emergencies is important.
A big part of the plan should be how they alert you if they’re in danger when you’re not around.
Most kids carry phones in their pockets, but there may be situations where your child can’t make a phone call… or worse: They could have someone looking over their shoulder when they text. That’s when a secret emoji could save the day.
A secret emoji could save the day if your child is in danger
In an emergency, an emoji is less conspicuous than a word or phrase — which could signal someone else in if your child is reaching out for help.
If your child can’t make a call to you or someone is watching them text, an emoji can serve as the perfect distress signal.
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When choosing the best secret emoji, make sure it’s easy to remember — but not one your family usually uses often.
That could cause unnecessary confusion and probably some distress. You should also avoid commonly used emojis, like hearts or smiley faces.
Animal emojis are great options, especially the more exotic ones. Take the octopus, for example.
That little guy isn’t a commonly used emoji, but it’s easy for the whole family to remember.
Picking out a secret emoji may seem like a quick task, but it’s important to have a formal family sit-down with your kids to discuss the plan.
Drive home the point that it should only be used in emergencies. No funny business.
You should also explain which responses your kids should expect from you if they use it.
For example, when they send you the emoji, will you follow up with a phone call? If so, what will you say?
One great suggestion is to call your child immediately and tell them they must come home ASAP.
Depending on what’s going on, other steps you can take as a parent are contacting the authorities or reaching out to trusted adults nearby.
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After you decide on your secret emoji and discuss the plan with your kids, make it a point to revisit it regularly.
Set up a family meeting once or twice a year to review so it becomes natural in a real emergency.
This isn’t just a good idea for little kids. Your teen or college-aged kid could end up in a sticky situation and need help — without alerting everyone around them they feel uncomfortable.
Here are the most important points of putting together a secret emoji plan with your family. You can even use this as a guide to your family meeting.
● A secret emoji is a great alternative to a standard emergency call or text. It’s less obvious to perpetrators and gets the message across quickly.
● Pick an emoji you and your family don’t regularly use, but don’t choose anything too obscure. Animals are great.
● Once you decide on a secret emoji, sit your kids down and discuss the plan. Include the actions you’ll take if they ever have to use it.
● Revisit your secret emoji plan regularly. Swap the emoji if you find someone actually uses the one you picked for other purposes.
It’s so important to be prepared for emergencies. Adding a secret emoji to your family’s overall safety plan is a smart idea.
Make sure the kids can always get through to you
If the whole family uses iPhones, this is a must-do: Set up Family Sharing. This feature lets you share your location with family members and help them find their devices if lost.
But even if your phone isn’t lost, the people you share your location with can ping your phone when it’s in Do Not Disturb mode to get your attention.
Here’s how to set up Family Sharing:
● Go to Settings > [your name] > Family Sharing, then scroll down and tap Location Sharing.
● Tap the name of a family member you want to share your location with. You can repeat this step for each family member you want to share your location with. Each family member receives a message that you’re sharing your location and can choose to share their location with you.
● You can stop sharing your location with any family member at any time.
After you share your location with members of your Family Sharing group, they can see your device in their Find My app and send an alert to your phone if needed.
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