Is Social Media Building Terrorists In America?
by William Jackson
Edward Waters College
There are many web sites that encourage kids to participate in
social activities online, these sites offer graphics that are appealing
to the eyes, music that makesthe foot tap, interactions that allow
kids, teens and young adults to share their life stories.
The interactivity is not new to social sites, but the increasing dangers
and exposure is changing the dynamics of parental participation
and accountability as children access online sites that allow
connectivity to the world.
The latest stories of ISIS recruiting using Social Media is growing,
shown in The Telegraph, “Isis has proved fluent in YouTube, Twitter,
Instagram, Tumblr, internet memes and other social media.” To recruit
potential members (14 Jan 2015), this lets parents know more
than ever they need to be diligent and proactive when talking to their
children about technology and Social Media.
Comments from Police Commissioner Bill Bratton of New York
have given rise to a chilling reality that, “This is the evolving world
of terrorism (we live in).” How terrorists are using Social Media to
spread their messages. One of the groups ISIS “has mastered
social media, one of the main tools it has used to attract new recruits.”
“How different would people act if they couldn’t show off on social
media? Would they still do it?” Donna Lynn Hope makes the statement
related to SM because kids, teens and young adults like to socialize
and talk about themselves. The dangers are they don’t know who
or whom is monitoring and watching them. Sizing them up to start
sending/sharing potential rhetoric of a terrorist nature. Starting a
recruiting process based on friendship and commonalities.
Many Social Media sites offers multiple rooms for kids to explore
and make friends, but each carries its own personality and access to
people,places and things that may be morally, ethically and socially
challengingto kids that are still working to define their value structure.
The use of graphics of sexually explicit nature and violence attract the
attentions of kids and teens, but the underlying conditioning to sex
and violence may create a buffering effect of mental and emotional
detachments. Kids are influenced by pictures, music and activities
and not even know they are being manipulated into a group or
There is a growing concern of parents for Social Media sites
that allow open access to content that kids, children and young adults
have access to. It is not as simple as not letting kids get on the computer
because children share information on sites. Technology has a strong
social connection and kids are drawn to it because it allows them to
connect and communicate with their peers, friends and potentially new
Humans are social creatures so even the thought of limiting social
interaction is not possible because humans need social engagement.
Children build their tools of social engagement by interactions both
good and bad. Social networks/media are similar to socializing in real
life and real time. Parents should understand the ‘social’ part of ‘social
media’ is just that, the ability to be social and engaged with others.
Andrew Hutchinson, Writer/Consultant, “This is why content is crucial
in Social Media. This is why engagement is crucial, because it’s you.
Who you are is as important as what you do. It’s your way into their world.”
The focus of some Social Media sites for parents is that kids are creating
avatars that are based on their appearances, attitudes, self-expressions and
interpretations of who or what they envision themselves. An environment
clarifies that as an online environment parents need to be and stay
actively involved in what their children are exposed to online.
They cannot assume that just because they tell their children not
to participate in something that they won’tbecause peer pressure
is a powerful force and in some cases more powerful than a parent’s
expectations and commands.
Sites such as Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/)
are resources for information to help parents make informed decisions.
This past holiday season records were set in the purchasing of technology
devices, but too many parents purchased entertainment systems, tablets,
Smartphones and other devices for their underage children and not providing
guidelines, rules and even limitations or restrictions for use. The resulting
consequences could have effects not seen until later in life with change in
behaviors, associations to groups and social engagements that may
encourage deviation in sexual orientation, influencing religious choices
and make a person question their morals and ethics.
“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are
perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo,
or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint
and personal brand.” Amy Jo Martin
News reports (CNN) are showing that teens in America are being
contacted by ISIS and other terrorists groups to support terrorism.
Recently an Illinois teenager accused of trying to support ISIS pleaded
not guilty n a federal court, but evidence shows his involvement in being
trained by a known group.
Parents like Zarine Khan, whose son was involved in being recruited are
making statements directly to groups like ISIS that, “We condemn this
violence in the strongest possible terms. We condemn the brutal tactics
of ISIS and groups like them. And we condemn the brainwashing and
the recruiting of children through the use of social media and Internet.”
As with any parent their anger and outrage can be heard in their words,
Mrs. Khans’ message is, “”We have a message for ISIS, Mr. Baghdadi and
his fellow Social Media recruiters,” “Leave our children alone!”