Online radicalisation

Protecting young people from grooming


Gaming Computer
Tackling terrorism remains to be one of the government’s main priorities.

What with the convenience and accessibility of social networks, social games and encrypted communication platforms, the mammoth task of combatting extremism is made much trickier.

How are extremists using online technologies to exploit children into believing their ways?


What is online radicalisation?
Increasingly, the Internet is being used by people who wish to share views and opinions. When this is done by an extremist - someone who holds extreme political and/or religious views and who may promote illegal or violent action – in a way designed to cause those views to be adopted by others, this is defined as online radicalisation. It is a form of grooming – enticing someone to act in a certain way or manner for malicious reasons.

How are young people radicalised online?
Extremists meet young people where they are at – in online games, on social networks and on apps. Because of the physical divide, children may not perceive online strangers as potentially unsafe in the way that they would do in the real world, and therefore they may engage with them on more personal levels. Their usual barriers may be down, causing them to be more vulnerable. In addition to this, as young people grow and develop in their understanding of who they are and where they belong in the world, they may search for others’ views and opinions and seek guidance from their online acquaintances; their youth leading to greater susceptibility.

Some extremist organisations make training resources and videos using themes of popular violent games, such as Call of Duty, as they know that these will be particularly appealing to young people. In some cases, extremist have directly used the social nature of online games to groom children – meeting them where they are at and playing on their emotions. Extremists may also publish content on YouTube or use other popular apps, such as Instagram and Snapchat, to spread their messages.

Extremist groomers play on a young person’s feelings and will make their ideals appealing.

Who is at greater risk?
Anyone, at any point, could potentially be groomed by an extremist online, but young people who fall into one of the below categories are particularly vulnerable:

  • Those who are searching for answers to life online;
  • Those who are associated with a gang, or involved in criminal activity;
  • Those who are suffering with behavioural problems or issues at home;
  • Those who lack self-esteem, confidence or a sense of identity.
  • Preventing online radicalisation
    To help young people stay safe from this form of grooming, it’s essential that they are taught to:

  • Understand that some strangers online pose risks, have corrupt intentions and may not be who they say they are;
  • Understand that people can publish anything online, even things that are false, untrustworthy and untrue;
  • Speak to an adult about anyone who is making them feel uncomfortable or trying to make them believe in certain views/opinions;
  • Report content or messages that promote violence.
  • Adults can also get involved by:

  • Talking to young people openly about terrorism and extremism – what it is and the effect it has;
  • Helping young people grow in their sense of self-confidence and self-worth;
  • Being aware of what young people are doing online and who they’re talking to;
  • Making sure that age-appropriate controls are in place;
  • Checking that young people know who to report inappropriate/violent content to;
  • Being aware of the signs that a young person may be being groomed: they may start to talk about new beliefs and cultures, they may become emotionally volatile or secretive and they may start to mistrust the mainstream media and look for conspiracy theories.


  • Further guidance, teaching resources and staff training on anti-radicalisation is available to E-safety Support and Safeguarding Essentials members. Join now!

    Written by Matt Lovegrove on July 12, 2018 12:35


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