LEGENDARY hip hop group Salt-N-Pepa will have to update their classic song Let’s Talk About Sex to reflect how 21st century teenagers actually speak to each other about sex.

A recent study found that 80 per cent of 16-25 year olds find it easier to express themselves using emojis and more than 50 per cent of that group regularly use emojis when talking about sex.

[showads ad=MREC] Sexual wellbeing brand Durex — who commissioned the research — now want to harness the power of emojis to promote sexual health.

Emojis are tiny icons used on smartphones or on social media to express ideas or emotions, such as happiness Apple's Smiling Face With Open Mouth and Smiling Eyes, frustrationEmojipedia's Face Palm or tossing up whether Lady Gaga is better than Madonna Apple's Thinking Face. These three — Apple's Aubergine Apple's Splashing Sweat SymbolApple's Peach — are often used to refer to sex (we’ll let you figure out they mean Apple's Winking Face).

“I love their versatility,” James Ward, 21, said.

“You can use them ironically and in a variety of different ways.”

Ward said a lot of his friends use emoticons to broach difficult subject matters, especially when discussing sex with a new partner.

“You can’t ignore the fact there is a gay hookup culture and I can skim over the awkwardness and ask by sending a condom emoji with a question mark,” he said.

A worldwide campaign was launched ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1 to introduce a condom emoji into the online lexicon.

Such an emoji would enable people to overcome embarrassment around the discussion of safe sex, encourage conversation and raise awareness of the importance of using condoms in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

People around the world are being urged to use and share the hashtag #CondomEmoji in support of safe sex and to make the emoji official.

“The idea came from our research which showed that 84 per cent of young people feel more comfortable speaking about sex through Emojis, however there’s no Emoji currently that promotes safe sex,” Durex Australia commercial manager Daniel Harsanyi said.

“We want to empower young people to have open and honest conversations around sex. We believe that having the confidence to ask questions and talk openly about sex is key to having a healthy, happy sex life.”

The aim is to have one million users join the #CondomEmoji during November so the support can be captured as part of the official submission to Unicode — the official governing body for emojis— on World AIDS Day, December 1.

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