But should moments of distress be shared for public consumption — and played for laughs?
Jimmy Kimmel has netted more than 65 million views on YouTube of prank segments from his late-night talk show featuring several kids bursting into tears and fits of rage. The reason? Parents who lied to youngsters about eating their Halloween candy and filmed the ensuing meltdowns for broadcast.
The Tumblr blog Reasons My Son Is Crying run by Greg Pembroke has gone viral with images of his child and other tearful tots accompanied by descriptive captions about the cause of their foul moods. The site even inspired a parody Tumblr by late-night funnyman Conan O'Brien.
In a blog post about her son's birthday party, Heather Eigler wrote of how the toddler became momentarily overwhelmed by the singing and lit candles on his cake and started to cry — and included a photo of the tearful two-year-old as proof. She followed up in the same post with cheerier images of him enjoying his cake and smiling for the camera.
The Calgary mother behind the blog Home to Heather said she saw the Reasons My Son Is Crying site as one with humorous intent and didn't come away with any negative feelings.
"I think as long as it's done with taste, it shows the reality of parenting," said Eigler, 34, who also has a six-year-old daughter.
"Raising kids isn't all sunshine and rainbows. They cry. And so I think talking about it just makes other people feel like they're not alone with this kid that cries all the time — other people's kids cry, too. And it shows a bit of the humour."
Emma Waverman wrote about the buzzworthy tearful tot Tumblr on her own blog, Embrace The Chaos, which is hosted by MSN.ca.
"My first reaction was (it's) funny, I laughed," said the Toronto mom, 43, whose kids are aged 13, 10 and seven.
"Then when I thought about it, I thought: 'Would I do it?' No. I don't post pictures of my own children on my blog at all. It's a decision that I made because I think they have the right to tell their own story.
"I don't think that the dad was mean-spirited at all. I think that he was doing it in good fun. But it is a lot of pictures of his own child crying, and obviously, I think everything lives on the Internet forever," she added.
"Eventually, the kid will look back and see all of these pictures of him crying, and it will be then up to him to be mad or think it's funny."
Both bloggers said the context in which the crying children images are captured is critical. To that end, they saw the cranky reactions provoked in the Kimmel-televised pranks as crossing the line.
"Documenting life is one thing," said Eigler, "but setting up a situation to make a child upset is not something I'm OK with."
"That just seems mean to me," Waverman said of the bits. "I can't believe that your five minutes or a minute 30 of fame is really worth embarrassing and humiliating your children.
"I like Jimmy Kimmel, but that's definitely not a segment I really enjoy. You kind of laugh, but it's sort of that cringe-laugh, and I don't that's really worth it at the expense of your kids."
An email to "Jimmy Kimmel Live" seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Research psychologist and educator Larry Rosen has done extensive work examining reactions to technology, including explorations of online empathy and the impact of social networks on adolescents and parents.
Parents "don't sometimes get the permanence of things on the Internet," said Rosen, professor and past chair of the psychology department at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
"I think that in many cases parents need to think twice about what they post," he said in a phone interview from New York.
"As a parent myself, the question I would ask is: 'Do I want this to be on there permanently?'
"Right now, it might seem a little silly and cute, and it's a picture of my kid crying over such and such; but it might just have ramifications 10 years down the road, five years down the road, 20 years down the road."