Those with extreme political views and even terrorists can use the internet as a medium to attract other people, to make others believe in their same philosophies – and this includes children. Young people who access the internet are vulnerable. Many of them do not have the capacity to discern the information that is being fed into them. This is a huge concern for internet safety. Parents must be proactive in their approach towards radicalisation, a problem that we will explore deeper in the rest of this post.
What It Is?
Understanding what radicalisation is can be instrumental in having knowledge of how it can affect young people on the internet. Simply put, it refers to a process by which an individual, in this case, young internet users, can adopt extreme political, social, or religious views. This leads to the rejection of the status quo and falling trap into what the extremists would want them to believe. This could also lead into participating in violence as a means of emphasising political aims. Its main driver is the internet or the cyberspace in general.
Where It Can Happen?
As it has been earlier pointed out, radicalisation can happen online, which makes internet safety for young users a paramount concern. Among others, it can happen on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Though contents shared in mobile videos, extremists might also attempt to radicalise the view of people. One important thing to keep in mind is that there is no single pathway to radicalise the point of views of young users, but there are some common elements that are present.
It all starts in mainstream, sites that are commonly visited by young people on the internet. This is where extremists look for targets and get in touch with young users. More often than not, they will pretend that they are other people. From the mainstream websites, they will move into lesser-known sites, such as Kik Messenger and Omegle. This will lead to being more difficult to monitor and more anonymity. This is where the extremists will attempt to alter the views of children, similar to brainwashing.
How Does It Affect Young People?
Young people on the internet are vulnerable to radicalisation, especially if they are not properly guided by their parents. The most significant effect of radicalisation is perhaps having opposing views, usually contrary to what is actually right. Young users who have been radicalised because of the internet will adopt new perspectives in life. They will show support towards terrorism or violence in general. They will reject the status quo and will believe in the information that they are fed. They might also tend to share these beliefs in an attempt to encourage other people to be like them. Children may question their identity because of what they learn online. At its worst, they will turn violent and can even be involved in criminal acts.
Young girls who are affected by radicalisation may end up being sexually abused. They might end up joining groups after being radicalised, and in the end, they can be raped. Others can end up being suicide bombers, although such is more common in the case of older people.
What Parents Can Do?
The role of parents will be indispensable when it comes to internet safety. While young people on the internet can be prone towards radicalisation, parents can do a lot in order to prevent such problem from happening. One of the most important would be having proper communication. It is important for parents to find the time to talk to their children and encourage them to share anything that seems unusual. Parents should also know the friends of their children. They should know the websites that they are visiting.
Education is also important to protect young people on the internet. For instance, children should be educated that while there is nothing wrong with expressing their views, there are limitations and they should never resort to violence. They should know what is right from what is wrong, or more importantly, they must differentiate what is moral from immoral.
Teach them about
responsible use of the internet to makes sure that they will visit only the sites that are good for them.
There are also websites that can help parents to promote internet safety and prevent radicalisation. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and Safer Internet are just some of the websites where parents can find resources that will help them promote the use of the internet in a manner that is safe.
In sum, radicalisation is a serious issue that can turn innocent children into violent individuals. It is a great concern amongst parents. For young people on the internet to be not prone into such, parents must assume their responsibilities and make sure that their kids are using the internet safely.
Author: Asian Mums Network Blogger
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