Mom’s warning to parents of white teen boys: White supremacists are recruiting through video games, social media

Mom’s warning to parents of white teen boys: White supremacists are recruiting through video games, social media
Jennifer Schroeder has a warning for parents to be vigilant in monitoring their sons' online lives because white supremacists are recruiting. It's more subtle than parents may realize, she says. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - Joanna Schroeder says if parents aren’t paying attention to the lives of their young teen boys online, white supremacists are.

“Do you have white teenage sons? Listen up,” she wrote in a tweet.

Schroeder explained the intricate process she believes white supremacists use to recruit and it starts with sharing memes or other jokes.

"They've studied the way our young men interact online and they have looked at what these boys need and they have learned how to fill those needs in order to entice them into propaganda," Schroeder told CNN.

As a writer of online content, she was surprised when she heard the coded language she's often confronted with coming out of her own sons' mouths.

She said words like "triggered" and "snowflake" are part of a whole lexicon of these communities online as others being too sensitive is a common complaint among these groups.

"That is a very alt-right talking point that is entryway terminology. It's not racist. No, it's not, but it's often used against people who are calling out racism or sexism or homophobia as a way to imply that those of us who don't accept that language are just too sensitive," she said.

Her son, like many others CNN spoke with, was drawn in by snarky memes.

Schroeder and her son scrolled through his Instagram explore feed, which recommends content based on what it thinks a user will enjoy. She was stunned.

"I saw an image of Hitler, and I stopped him, and I said, 'Wait. Was that Hitler?'" she said.

It was a meme implying a time traveler would have tipped Hitler off to keep him alive.

"I know my kids understand Hitler, but as I scrolled through, I saw more memes that joked about the Holocaust and joked about slavery," she said.

That's when she went to Twitter to issue the now-viral warning to other parents and the mixed reactions were strong.

One person wrote that what Schroeder described happened to him in high school exactly as she said.

Others attacked Schroeder, calling her all the names she warned her kids about.

Schroeder said white supremacy propaganda is on just about every social media platform.

"It's just the door that opens for the white supremacist to walk in and take your kid's hand," she said. "It's our kids' inability to sniff out propaganda."

Ultimately, she says parents need to learn more about their children's online life. She said that starts with getting accounts on sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Discord and Reddit.

Then talk about it.

"The kids and I are conspirators together. These alt-right guys are trying to trick you. They think you're dumb, and you're not. You're smart," she said.

Some have attacked Schroeder for brainwashing her kids, but she says she is teaching them analytical skills to know the difference between right and wrong.

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