In the 1990s, the use of pagers was very common amongst Japanese teenagers.
Despite their popularity, these pagers were far from perfect.
In Japan, written communication is traditionally long, personal, and full of emotion and goodwill. Pagers, which only allowed for short messages, were causing a good deal of miscommunication between users.
Realizing this, Shigetaka Kurita, an employee at one of Japan’s largest pager providers, came up with the idea to let users access visual symbols to represent some of the emotions they couldn’t capture in short messages.
And thus, the emoji was born!
The word “emoji” comes from the Japanese words for “picture” (e) and “character” (moji).
In the 20+ years since their invention, the emoji family has grown to include over 2,000 images! 2017 saw the addition of an additional 69 emojis including a mermaid, dinosaurs, and broccoli.
Fun with Emoticons
Students love using emojis, even to a point that it makes teachers cringe.
That said, emoticons (the older cousins of emojis) can be a useful way for students to practice typing punctuation marks.
For a fun typing activity, you can challenge students to practice advanced punctuation and symbols by typing emoticons such as these: 🙂 🙁 😀 😛 ;-)
Start kids off practicing advanced symbols with this lesson and then have them practice typing a list of provided emoticons.
You can make the activity more creative by challenging students to create their own emoticons to represent different emotions or words using the punctuation marks they’ve learned.
The Great Emoji Debate
Today, emojis are a ubiquitous part of daily communication for children, teens, and adults alike.
Many sociologists and communication experts allege that emojis allow us to communicate more successfully through digital means.
Much of the meaning you get from talking with someone in person comes from their gestures and facial expressions. This aspect of communication is lost in the visually devoid world of texting, and emojis pick up the slack, making digital communication more precise.
That said, there are plenty of more formal instances where you shouldn’t use emojis.
Most teachers can sympathize with having received an email or message from a student that is plastered with emojis or emoticons.
This emoticon exercise could be a great opportunity to talk to students about the appropriate use of emojis and emoticons in informal versus formal communication.
What’s your policy for when students can and cannot use emojis or emoticons in their writing? Leave us a comment below sharing your take.
Happy typing! 😀