Hate groups and their members have been around for a long time, but the connected world has amplified their insidious messages for people of all ages. A sizeable percentage of the online messages from these groups are aimed at middle and high school children.
Recently an article, ‘Listen up.’ How White Supremacists are Recruiting Boys Online, appeared in the September 17, 2019 Washington Post and described in some detail how extremist groups are attempting to recruit adolescents.
Over the years, I’ve shared my excitement about computers, the Internet, the web, and eventually social media with people of all ages, and I continue to believe in the power of technology and learning. Yet, on a regular basis, a small interior voice of discomfort warned me again and again about extremists’ digital activities. Articles appearing on one of my news feeds would catch my attention, or occasionally a middle or high school student or a parent would comment about hateful comments seen online. Once a colleague shared an article that described how hate groups recruit kids with cool music. Continue reading “Yes, White Supremacists Do Attempt to Recruit Kids Online”
As I’ve thought almost continuously about the nine individuals murdered at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, I’ve also spent time considering how a young person grows into a hateful individual. All children begin life as accepting young beings, but at any age, once exposed to hateful attitudes or violent behavior, attitudes can change dramatically.
I’ve read every article I can find that offers guidance to adults about interpreting horrific events and addressing topics that feel uncomfortable, most recently We Need to Deal With Our Discomfort and Talk to Our Kids About Racism by writer Meghan Leahy in the Washington Post. Interestingly, few of the materials that I’ve read address the issue of online hate, the ease with which users, including kids, can access it, and the need for adults — parents and educators — to ensure that 21s Century children possess the evaluative skills to recognize and thus inoculate themselves from hate material when it pops up on their screens. For parents conversations about race, privilege, extremism, and hate can create a considerable amount of discomfort.
Fifteen years ago only people taught children to hate. Today the transmission of hate doesn’t require human contact or conversation at all — just a computer, some misguided online searches, and a lack of adult supervision. If we want to raise children who recognize racism, understand privilege, and yes, speak out, we must be sure to pay attention to what they do online. Continue reading “Teach Kids to Protect Themselves from Hateful Information Online”