Is Your Child An ISIS or Extremist Target
by William Jackson
The use of Social Media has grown from a communications tool used
in text format with the ability to interact with anyone through email,
growing to a digitally and interactive platform to an entertainment
platform that has no limits on multimedia interaction, music and movies
can be viewed with ease from a multitude of software’s that are
available for free, and now Social Media has the potential to be a
recruitment tool with dangerous results.
The recent news report on NPR of ISIS and other extremist groups
recruiting youth, teens and young adults should be another wakeup
call for parents to monitor their children’s Social Media activity. Parents
need to understand the dynamics and connectivity of Social Media
allowing the ability to connect with individuals and groups globally.
There was safety with distance at one time, but now with the Internet
and the integration of Social Media platforms that have powerful tools,
distance is not a protective measure.
Distance, time zones, geographic locations and even differences in language
are not a hindrance to connecting with potentially dangerous groups.
There are tools, Apps, translation software, devices, programs and direct
interaction that can circumvent any challenge to communication. Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Vimeo, SnapChat, Youtube are just a small part
of the interactive abilities of the Internet. Each month there seems to be
a new App or program that allows unlimited access to people and information.
Parents need to be educated on the interactivity and the platforms of
Social Media, not just to battle foreign terrorists, but domestic terrorism
in the form of Bullying, Cyberbullying, Sexting and even Catfishing.
Groups are applying the knowledge of technology in desktop and laptop
computers, also the mobility of tablets and Smartphones. These devices
have the ability in a mobile platform to allow groups to recruit and influence
mentally and emotionally the decisions that youth, teens and young adults
make. The Internet connections can be 24 hours a day thus opening
constant dialogue and engagement.
Individuals and groups can develop relationships that can potentially influence
the behaviors of youth, teens and young adults to disobey their parents and
guardians, to go against their moral, ethical and even religious teachings
and participate in potential activities of terrorism. If a parent thinks that
their child will never do this they are foolish and ignorant to the power of
technology and engagement through Social Media. The Social aspect of
social media encourages connecting and the ability to have unlimited
connectivity to anyone around the globe. The infusion of Social Media tools
opens doors to levels of communication that are uncontrolled and unmonitored
by the government. If the government does not monitor the content being
created, parents need to monitor what comes into their homes, physically
As an elementary school, higher education teacher and Social Media
blogger I have blogged and spoken about the responsibility and accountability
of parents to monitor their children’s online social life. Talking to elementary
students, they present a picture that is frightening. Their parents are unaware
of their actions and behaviors in an online environment. Girls and boys in fourth
and fifth grade pretending to be in middle and high school, using language that
would make a seasoned sailor blush or a porn star envy. Social Media is a mirror
of our society; there are information sites, entertainment sites, interactive sites
that promote education, intellectualism and the diversity of sexual lifestyles.
There are sites dedicated exclusively to illegal drugs, pedophile sites that teach
how to lure children away from their parents and the site http://ask.fm/ that was
used by three girls from Denver, Colorado and were recruited by ISIS. Parents
must understand that sites are managed by individuals that study children, teens
and young adults and employ tactics and strategies that entice and lure them
to a sense of safety and openness.
The ease of the Internet and WIFI connections allows youth and teens to go
online without guidance or training, opening digital doors to multiple influences
that at one time parents would say, “my child would never do that” or “my children
knows better” and even “there are no people like that where I live.”
This dangerous and ignorant way of thinking is being tested as youth, teens and
young adults in the United States and other nations are influenced by elements
of ISIS, religious extremists and other organizations that may glamorize violence,
racism, hate, gender bias or even romanticize the efforts of projected images
of liberation of people or culture through violence.
The minds and emotions of youth and teens are impulsive and easily influenced
especially if youth and teens feel neglected by family. If children feel they are not
important, valued, contributing to the family and even treated as important
they will knowingly or unknowingly search for the things they feel or think they are
missing. These are the same elements when youth, teens and young adults
enter the world of gangs. Groups know how to build a relationship with teens
and young adults, this may happen over months or years, but they do build
trust and friendships. These friendships / relationships blossom into a
connection that is hard to break and creates in teens a bond that may grow
to be stronger than the bond they have with their parents and family members.
The disturbing ease of access to groups that promote violence shows how the
Internet can enter into homes and the lives of American families. The Internet
can be absorbed into homes where the might of the American military cannot
have an influence; this is the battlefield for parents and guardians. They must
be vigilant and instinctive of their and other children’s access to Internet resources
and Social Media platforms.
Parents must on a regular timeline check Smartphones, Internet sites on laptops,
tablets and other devices to see where their children are going. Parents should
Google their children and their friends to keep abreast of potential activities and
importantly have conversations and express parental expectations of behavior.
If a parent does not take steps they may be faced with dire consequences and
circumstances as the recent NPR story shares or worse.
The NPR story by Dina Temple-Raston – “ISIS Used Predatory Tools And
Tactics To Convince U.S. Teens To Join” shows the ease and the complexity in
recruiting teens. Parents must have conversations with their children about
their online activities because their lives are literally in danger using
NPR story can be found at:
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