Grown-ups behave bad too

“Really shitty. I gotta vomit…”

“Fuck that. Terrible.”

These comments are luckily not taken from kids’ social media but from Facebook. They are comments from grown-ups on a band’s fan page regarding its new release.

Sophisticated conversation can be doomed to failure when grown-ups get to express themselves online. Commenting may get pretty bad on Facebook’s fan pages or celebrity profiles, and it’s usually even worse on platforms where opinions can be shouted out anonymously. Bad language is used and malicious comments are cast. Pure racism or sexism are not rarities either.

Many anonymous discussion forums follow the rules of jungle, not to even mention the comment sections on online newspaper articles. In the Nordics, a hot topic has recently been female politicians who get harassed in social media by for instance being called hookers and receiving threats.

Picture: Yuyi, user of Momio

Picture: Yuyi, user of Momio

Why is it so easy to be mean?

Internet itself is a great channel for having conversations and arguing. It’s also easy to get in contact with decision makers and celebrities for example on Twitter or Instagram and exchange opinions. But why do we sometimes forget about good manners? Why is it so easy to hurt someone’s feelings online?

Not many of us would shout “really shitty” at a live gig or say “shut up you lousy hooker” at a networking event. Quite the opposite. We want to give a good first impression and can be rather careful in coming out with our points of views – especially when surrounded by strangers.

Should grown-up media also have rules?

Taken the grown-ups’ behavior into bearings, it’s not so strange that children sometimes are mean to each other in social media. Kids see that happening online all the time, which makes it hard for them to understand why it’s not acceptable.

On goSupermodel and Momio, we teach the kids that swearing, nasty comments and harassing are forbidden and that everyone needs to respect each other. If the rules are not followed, we give punishments like warnings and time-outs or even ban some children from using the products completely.

Clearly, we grown-ups have a lot to learn. Maybe there should be stricter rules and punishment mechanics on adult social media too?

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About the author:

Pia Edman, watAgame

Pia Edman worked as a Finnish Community Manager at watAgame from 2009 to 2015. She has several years of experience in working with online communities and online safety as well as with digital content creation and digital advertising. Pia has a master’s degree in Finnish language.