VK (formerly VKontakte) is the most used social media networking site among Russian speakers and is particularly popular with young people under the age of 30. But the website gained negative media attention during the past year for the ‘popularity’ of death groups, which targeted vulnerable young people and encouraged suicide.
Parents were desperate for information about these groups and how to protect their children, so ACET Ukraine developed specific training for parents and teachers which included –
· raising awareness of the existing risks of Internet use (e.g. cyberbullying and phishing);
· overview of death group activities;
· warning signs a child might be involved in the groups;
· links to psychologists and external agencies for support;
· action that can be taken to stop death groups; and
· advice on how to communicate with children about internet security, how to build trust, and have open and honest conversations
The country’s President has now banned the use of Vkontakte for Ukranians but young people’s online safety will continue to be an important topic of education, regardless of which social media platform they use.