Look at the picture on the left.
How does it make you feel? Are you saddened, uncomfortable, angry? Is it wrong to post such images on kids’ social media? Momio’s rules are clear about posting about animal abuse, or any graphic content in fact, but this isn’t it. This picture just doesn’t evoke happy thoughts, and therefore many kids see it as a breach of the rules. They simply don’t expect to experience sadness or discomfort on a social media they visit to have fun.
EMPATHY AND GUILT
The first instinct therefore might be to delete the picture. But just stop and think for a second. It doesn’t break any rules, it just makes you feel uncomfortable and perhaps a little guilty. In that instant a lot of people might feel that they don’t do enough for their surroundings, that they don’t engage with their community enough or even that they should start volunteering at a shelter – to feel better about themselves. Then they realize those images are meant to invoke such strong feelings, that it’s almost a kind of emotional blackmail. Kids, who can’t yet analyze their own emotions that well, feel it stronger, but have fewer means to do something about it (adults can, for example, donate to a charity). Hence the sharing – the need to do something and help.
That’s why we feel that some kids do it from a misguided, but honest, will to help – their conscience feels lighter and they have a sense of accomplishment and a good deed done.
But on the flip side, many kids will definitely post such things only for attention, for likes, and shares, and comments (especially when they add: Every like gives this puppy a treat!). They will not consider that it might cause others to feel uncomfortable. And that’s not okay.
Sharing is an intrinsic part of life online, even if people often share strange things. Every case is therefore a tiny challenge to discern “the honest” from “the attention-seekers”. Momio is a place for kids to express themselves freely – rules are set in place to assure safety, but we don’t want to completely shield them from the world either. We try to do our best to educate our users that sad does not necessarily mean forbidden, but also that it’s not okay to play on other people’s empathy. All in moderation!
How about you? What is your reaction to sad images or videos online? How do you talk to your kids about them?