Radicalisation and the internet
Wed, 24 Aug 2022

We are all using the internet more than ever before and so it's increasingly important to  know what to look out for and how to protect our loved ones online.

UK adults are now spending up to a quarter of their waking hours online with 18-24-year-olds spending the most time, averaging five hours and four minutes. The internet has opened up many new opportunities in communication, entertainment, and knowledge. But it's also given extremists the means to target, connect and communicate with people vulnerable to radicalisation.

Young people in particular, can see all kinds of things online via social media and through online games. The popularity of online gaming has given extremists more opportunities to make their narratives sound more mainstream and reach out and radicalise others.

Social media platforms and internet forums are full of people reaching out online to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, stress, anxiety, or rejection. This can sometimes leave individuals feeling very upset or angry and potentially at risk from people looking to exploit these feelings.

A radicaliser will try to connect with someone or will join in the forum chat posing as a 'listening ear' or a 'friend.

Exposure to extremist content and groups online can lead them down a dangerous path. If you're concerned someone close might be being targeted, then act early and share your concerns so the person can get the support they need.

You can do this by talking with them directly, talking with their school or seeking information and guidance from the local authority team or from a website like Act Early UK (details of both below).

It's not easy to approach a young person who wants their privacy - and your trust. But it's important to find out who they might be coming into contact with online. To support any conversation for those who may be worried about someone close, particularly a child or young person we have put together some tips and considerations to help provide support:

  • be vigilant and find out who they are connecting with online and on gaming platforms
  • be curious about who they are talking to online, how they met and what information is being shared
  • let them know if they feel pressured or persuaded to meet, they can talk to you about it
  • discuss and challenge fake news and misinformation on social media. This will help the person become more critical and less accepting about what they are seeing online
  • talk about the effect that expressing extreme views can have on themselves, their family and others and the possible consequences if they go too far down this route
  • keep up to date with technology and understand how to use parental control settings.

More information and support can be found on the Act Early UK website (www.actearly.uk) and additional information and guidance can be provided by the Local Authority Prevent Team by emailing prevent@eastriding.gov.uk


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