Some of our young users try to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend on Momio and some older ones are furious about this:
“STOP writing that you are single. Momio is NOT a dating site.”
They are of course right, Momio is not a dating site, but it is not forbidden to look for a boyfriend or a girlfriend on Momio either. The reason for this is quite simple: Having a boyfriend or a girlfriend means something different to children than it means to us adults. After finding an online boyfriend or girlfriend and committing to them, kids are mostly interested in receiving sweet words and emojis from this new partner. With sweet words, I do not refer to sexual content. (Such things are indeed forbidden on Momio!). I read it as:
“You look beautiful today. WOW, I like your new outfit on Momio!”
What does it mean to have a boyfriend/girlfriend online?
When observing children’s (social media) behaviour we often use terms and understandings from our adult world, judge and quickly jump to conclusions. However, in kids’ universe, concepts such as intimate relationships are not clearly defined yet, they differ from kid to kid and distinguish from our understandings. The thing that really separates kids’ relationships from grown-up ones is that children’s relationships aren’t sexual. Kids are first and foremost looking for someone to talk to, share thoughts with and receive attention. They are looking for an online friend than a grown-up relationship. When looking for a relationship, kids often have very specific conditions and criteria, which are utterly important.
If you want to be my boyfriend, you need to be online very often. Three times a day actually. Otherwise, I will find someone new to write with.
Relationship = friendship?
Once a child feels like she is not receiving enough (online) attention or even that she has to share attention with another user, an emojinal break-up is very likely to follow. Even though kids’ online relationships are more like friendships, it is utterly important to them that their boyfriend or girlfriend makes them feel unique and only has one partner.
Relationships on Momio are more like exclusive friendships with sweet words and emojis. This is the reason we do not forbid our young users asking for a girlfriend or boyfriend.
Momio is a community where children can be among themselves, find friends, share opinions, learn from mistakes and shape their understanding of their online as well as offline world around them. If calling an online friend girlfriend or boyfriend is a part of that, we are okay with it.