Advice for Parents
Technology allows us to stay in touch even over large distances and helps children better understand the world around them. VK aims to make the world a more open place for communication and new experiences. With you, we want to help teenagers learn responsible online behavior and use services in a more informed manner.
Online Life is Real LifeChildren and adults often lack the skills or life experience to fully understand that these days the internet is an extension of real life. We advise parents and teachers to discuss with their children or students how to use the internet safely as well as explain how it all works. Try to also explain that on the internet, like in real life, itís important to respect other people.
In the modern world, knowing how to use the internet safely is no less important than, for example, knowing traffic rules. For children, itís just important to know to look both ways when crossing the street as it is to know that they need to be careful talking when to strangers, that they shouldnít bully other children regardless of their age or gender, and that VK has privacy settings that allow them to share content with only those who they want to see it. You can learn more about privacy management in this article (for now only available in Russian).
Set a good example for children, and teach them to pay attention to what they put on the internet. Many children have access to smartphones and tablets, even at a very young age. We recommend discussing internet safety as early as possible, showing by your own example how to responsibly use internet services. Children often copy adult behavior, which is why it is up to you to influence who will become your childís role model. Let your child know that they can always come to you for advice if they ever have any doubts or suspicions.
Unfortunately, some people behave aggressively online, insulting others for sake of insulting others. They feed off of reactions to their insults. Such people can be compared to kids that vandalize elevators with nasty words or images. Imagine if your elevator was covered in such offensive words. Sure, we can just scrub off all the writing, paint it over and voila! The jobís done. But the very next day youíll find new graffiti written all over the elevatorís walls again. This process will just keep on repeating over and over again.
Itís obvious that the only goal the creators of such pages have is to draw attention to themselves and elicit a negative reaction from otherwise indifferent people. After their page gets suspended, thereís a high likelihood that the same user will just create a new page and the entire situation will devolve into an endless war with such kinds of people. We recommend that you donít let yourself get provoked by these people and just ignore them instead. Without getting an angry or fearful response, such people often lose interest and abandon what theyíre doing. That said, you can always let our moderation team know of such content using the "Report" button or by contacting Support.
How We Help YouSocial networks have long been something more than just a place to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. On VK, you can also listen to music, play games, watch TV shows, and even buy tickets or order a taxi. Additionally, our platform hosts a lot of educational materials. Millions of users follow science communities, watch live streamed lectures and listen to informational podcasts. Itís no wonder people spend more time online than ever before.
Our team monitors content very closely and quickly blocks dangerous and offensive information. We also employ the most modern information security tools to keep you safe. With our VK users, we are creating a positive and safe environment so that teenagers can also take advantage of all our platform has to offer.
You can learn more about how our moderation system works, as well as how we process reports, fight spam and fraud, and prevent content encouraging child exploitation and violence here.
Listen and SpeakWe are sure that every individual can decide for themselves how much time they should spend online. Artificial limitations often have the opposite effect and lead to confusion, conflicts and a negative reaction.
Even if we are talking about the youngest internet users, itís important that parents have the ability to regularly communicate with their children, spend time together, find common interests, teach them and help them make informed decisions. As research shows, a healthy family environment and parents taking an active interest in their childís problems helps prevent many problems. Doing this forms trust and works more effectively than direct bans.
If your child encounters danger on the street, at school or on the internet, it is better to help them form the right attitude towards the problem and not create an information vacuum. Today, societal problems are quite often blamed on smartphones, games, or the internet. In the past, people thought that literary classics, films and series caused these problems, and in the future, something else will probably take the blame. These calls to ban or moderate something are nothing new. What is important, however, is to take into account the real reasons behind problems. These go much deeper and are rarely related to some sort of device or the internet.
Be attentive and understanding when talking with your child. Share your concerns and offer simple pieces of advice. Create an opportunity for them to help you, such as by asking them to teach you how to use some sort of online service. This could become a good way to discuss questions about safety and privacy. Talk about what kind of information should be published online. Explain that only the bare minimum of personal information should ever be posted online.†
It is important to explain to your children that you shouldnít believe everyone you meet online, just as you shouldnít believe everyone you meet in real life. Scammers can trick people by pretending that they are their friend or acquaintance. This happens to adults as well. Teach your child to carefully create and protect their password as well. You can read more about how to protect your password here (for now only available in Russian).
How to Fight BullyingChildren might run into bullying both in school and online. This might consist of ridicule, slander, posting photos of them without their permission, and even regular stalking, threats or physical aggression. Bullying often happens without adults knowing about it, but if you found out about threats or insults, act decisively to help sort out this bad situation. To start, try to help your child describe their problem in detail, and listen to them so you can work out the situation together.
If your child is being bullied. Try to remain calm so your child will remain calm as well. Avoid placing any blame. This could upset your suffering child even more. Express empathy, and understand that your child is already a victim. Donít criticize their behavior even if you think that it led to the attacks. If you, at any time, were a victim of bullying, you can talk about your experiences together. Let them know what helped you deal with the situation when you were going through it.
If your child is being threatened with physical violence, let them know that you will do everything you can to protect them and keep them safe. Depending on the situation, and taking into account the seriousness of the situation, it may be worth contacting a psychologist, school representative or law enforcement agency. If your child encountered a threat to their safety on VK, you can let us know about the threatening content by using the "Report" button or by contacting Support.†
If your child thinks that they are worse than others. Explain to them that they shouldnít measure their self-worth based on the success of others. People portray their life on the internet differently than what it is actually like. Everyone tries to focus on something important or good, but in actuality, we all get sad sometimes, feel lonely or end up in unfortunate situations. If your child is very upset or has any plans to hurt themselves, do not leave them alone with their thoughts. Show them how important they are to their family and friends.
If your child is worried about a friend whose posts may show signs of depression or a desire to harm themselves. If you or your child are close to this person, try to support them and advise them to seek help from parents, friends or a crisis hotline. If you know that this person is in immediate danger, please call emergency services at once.
If your child is participating in the bullying of other children. We understand that this situation is very unpleasant, but try to remain calm. Try to find out all of the details of what happened, how long itís been going on, and what exactly is motivating your child to participate in this activity and how they are feeling. Let them know that such behavior is not acceptable and can have very serious consequences for everyone. You can advise your child to apologize to the victim and help them choose the words to do so. Be open and honest so your child feels safe.
If your child is sure that he or she is right and is unwilling to change their behavior, donít rush to punish them. Itís important to find out what exactly is pushing your child to act aggressively. For this, it may be best to contact a psychologist. Perhaps your child has a lot of internal concerns that they canít sort out themselves and express these emotions by acting aggressive.
If the bullying took place on the internet, strongly recommend your child to delete the offensive content. Remind them that anything said or written online, both good and bad, can spread uncontrollably quickly and have unpredictable consequences, both for the victim and for the individual who posted the offensive content. If the bullying is taking place at school, you can bring in teachers and psychologists to help resolve the conflict. They can serve as mediators between the victim and the offender.
These recommendations were jointly prepared with psychologists.