What is it?
Emoticons (also known as Smileys) are facial expression icons, such as a smiley face, created with typed characters on a computer keyboard, usually to express the writer's emotions or mood.
How does it work?
Emoticons are sets of letters that (hopefully) convey a meaning in shorthand. For instance, a colon, a dash and a right parenthesis ) when typed one after the other create the original Smiley :-)
Note that some programs such as email and word processing can automatically replace emoticons with the graphical version, such as :-) becoming ☺ .
Why is it useful?
Because digital communication, such as instant messaging, is not done face-to-face, using emoticons as a response to a question, or after a sentence, helps to convey how you feel. Emoticons are a little like digital body language.
What do you need to keep in mind about your children and emoticons?
It is important that children view digital communication as just one way to interact with their friends. It is also important not to use emoticons in an offensive or hurtful way.
Also be aware that your meaning may not be the meaning interpreted by the recipient.