Teenagers are leaving everything behind to join ISIS an extremist group that has disturbed the peace of the whole world. Now they are targeting young children to join the forces and become “Jihadists”. It is a gruesome matter, but certainly needs to be addressed as the internet is the main medium of their access to the kids.
Aqsa Mahmood left her home in 2013 to join ISIS and is now their active Jihadi bride, blogging for them and openly sharing her experiences. She is also said to be a recruiter and probably have been in contact with the London school girls who fled Britain to join ISIS. American and Australian teens, girls and boys, are also getting affiliated with this group. Kids all over the world are the target of ISIS recruiters. There are some basic things that parents need to know about how these people work and lure kids.
How Do They Approach?
They reach children through every possible online medium, i.e. social media, gaming platforms, chat groups, etc. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, WordPress, Kik, Tumbler, YouTube, there is no site safe from it. There are apps that directly or indirectly teach kids about ISIS and allow them to get in contact with the kids. They also reach the kids through online videos and images which are the most popular among kids and go viral in seconds.
What Do They Promise?
They show a very strong, stable and “normal” image of themselves. Teenage is an age where kids are usually figuring themselves and confused about their identity and purpose of life. That is exactly what they exploit; promising them a stable life free of tensions, a home, and resources. On top of everything, there is a strong sense of purpose and vision that is planted in the vulnerable minds. They also pay the people who support them and have a big net of ISIS enthusiasts spread all over the internet.
Unfortunately, kids find it appealing and do not realize the outcome. Once the kids are in their territory the chances of them coming back are almost zero even if they want to! The eSafety and other child welfare authorities are concerned. They suggest that parents should play an active part in refraining their kids from making such decisions.
How Can Parents Be Vigilant?
There are a number of steps they can take in this regard and get more involved in their kids’ lives:
- Stay aware of what is going on in their lives. Teenagers often feel misfit and tend to isolate themselves. Become their friends so that they can share their confusions and problems with you. Try understanding their state of mind.
- Closely observe their behavior. A mother of a young boy who joined ISIS said that her son’s attitude changed. He became cold and empty and lost interest in daily life. If you see any changes in their normal behavior talk to them about it. But make sure to not irritate them because there is always a chance of lashing out. Handle them with care and support.
- Monitor their internet activity. Look at what kind of sites they go to and how frequently they use them. Supervise their contacts, calls and text messages for any unknown caller. Someone who recently showed up in their contacts and have a lot of conversations with. Text messages give a lot of insight about a kid’slife, mentalstate, and activities. Check out how to monitor text messages with FamilyTime.
- Limit their internet and social media use as these are the primary threats. View their apps and put a restriction on social sites, anonymous chat apps or any other app that arises suspicion. A good way is to always google unknown apps and understand their purpose. You can also set FamilyTime screen limits to avoid unnecessary internet use. It is available for both Android and iOS Track their location to detect any strange behavior. Be sure of their safety with Geofencing alerts.
- Give them a sense of belonging, security, confidence, and courage. Teach them to be grateful for what they have and that is only possible if you keep the same attitude in front of them.
Help Them Out!
The best thing you can do for your kids is to be there for them. Such decisions are often driven by a strong feeling of loneliness, confusion and identity crisis. Raise strong individuals and keep them busy so they don’t lose focus. Engage them in healthy activities all the while keeping a continuous check on their web them.