Block terror mongers’ bid to recruit youth digitally


Vigilance against terrorism must extend beyond the home, working with schools, community organisations and law enforcement.

Photo credit: Pool

An unsighbed snippet doing the rounds on social media warns parents about teenagers’ new method of getting intoxicated: They don’t go the oral way, get drunk without drinking alcohol and don’t smell booze as we know it.

The consumers of this new ‘alcohol’ do not imbibe it through the mouth but use tampons, which they “soak in liquor and insert in the anus”, making it undetectable as, since it does not go through the normal digestive system, it is odourless. And, of course, they ensure it does not spill on their clothing.

But they get high. And very fast, because “this method bypasses the filtration process by the liver and goes into the bloodstream directly”. The writer also notes that this can also kill. Terrible.

Our young ones are becoming creative in beating ‘the system’ (read the way we want to raise them). But the enemy is also matching the creativity. There is greater looming danger for our teenagers and those in the early twenties, still in school or college: Terror organisations are finding new ways of recruiting members and our youth, with the access to technological devices, are good fodder.

During these school holidays, it is imperative for parents to closely monitor and regulate their children’s sojourns on degital devices like mobile phones and computers. The reason is simple yet alarming: Terrorist groups are increasingly using these platforms to recruit young people. This demands our heightened vigilance to protect the children from falling victim to online radicalisation.

The Digital Age has brought about undeniable benefits, particularly as regards access to information. However, alongside these advantages lurk darker corners of the internet, where extremist ideologies thrive. Terrorist groups exploit the vulnerabilities of young minds, leveraging social media, gaming platforms and encrypted messaging apps to disseminate propaganda and groom potential recruits.

The appeal of online recruitment lies in its subtlety and accessibility. Through curated content, targeted adverts and persuasive messaging, extremists can easily reach impressionable youth seeking identity, purpose or a sense of belonging. The anonymity of the internet emboldens them to operate undetected, preying on youthful curiosity and idealism.

The threat of online radicalisation is not confined to distant lands or specific communities; it can lurk in your internet-enabled home. The terrorist recruiters often mask the true intentions of the narratives they peddle behind seemingly innocuous content.

Effective parental oversight begins with open communication. Establishing trust and fostering a non-judgmental environment encourages children to share their online experiences. Parents should initiate conversations about the risks of online extremism, emphasising critical thinking and digital literacy. Encouraging healthy scepticism towards online content can empower children to tell apart legitimate information and propaganda.

Practical measures such as using parental control tools and monitoring browsing history, as well as implementing age-appropriate restrictions on apps and websites, can curb exposure to extremist content. Moreover, parents should familiarise themselves with popular online platforms and gaming communities frequented by young users, enabling them to identify the warning signs of radicalisation.

Vigilance must extend beyond the confines of home to collaborating with schools, community organisations and law enforcement agencies. Educational initiatives to raise awareness of the extremist groups’ tactics can empower the youth to resist manipulation and make informed decisions online.

The war on online radicalisation is multifaceted and requires a nuanced approach. Blanket censorship or punitive measures are unlikely to deter the determined recruiters. Proactive engagement and early intervention are the best defence against radical narratives. Addressing the root causes of vulnerability—such as social isolation, identity struggles and disenfranchisement—can bolster resilience against extremism. Youth programmes that promote inclusivity, tolerance and critical thinking nurtures a generation equipped to navigate the complexities of the digital landscape responsibly.

Let us ensure the promise of the Digital Age is not at the cost of our children’s safety and well-being.

- Ms Benyawa is a communication consultant and journalist. [email protected].