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CNN publishes mom's warning for mothers with 'white teen sons': 'If you don't pay attention to their online lives, white supremacists will'


A new kind of bogeyman

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Mom and writer Joanna Schroeder told CNN's Sara Sidner about the importance of parents watching out for their white teen sons' "online lives" — because if they don't, white supremacists will apparently swoop in and take over their child.


Schroeder, a self-described progressive and liberal, made her impassioned plea to mothers across the country in a lengthy post pointing out the warning signs that a person's son might be treading in questionable territory.

"[White supremacists] have studied the way that our young men interact online, and they have looked at what these boys need," Schroeder told Sidner. "And they have learned how to fill those needs in order to entice them into propaganda."

Schroeder said that she was so concerned about the possibility that her son might turn into a raging white supremacist that she sat down with him and went through his social media together.

"He was scrolling quickly, really quickly," she said. "It was so fast, and he slowed down, and I saw an image of Hitler and I stopped him and I said, 'Wait, is that Hitler?'"

It was indeed Hitler, in a meme, which implied a "time traveler would have tipped him off about the future to keep him alive." The meme was reportedly a part of her son's Instagram feed suggestions.

"I know my kids understand Hitler, but as I scrolled through his [social media] I saw more memes that joked about the Holocaust and joked about slavery," Schroeder added, insisting that such memes and posts are "desensitizing our kids."

Here's what Schroeder says to watch out for

  • The use of the word "snowflake," which she said is "used to mock people deemed too sensitive, especially about issues impacting minorities."
  • The term "triggered." Schroeder says the term can be heard via "your conservative uncle," but it also comes from "alt-right messaging online."
  • "Femenoid/femoid: a sexist term used to refer to women as non-human."
  • Other alarming terms include "kek, a form of 'lol' that sometimes refers to an ironic white nationalist 'religion'; cuck; chad; femenoid; beta; 'Blood and Soil,' and the numbers 14 or 88, for their association with Hitler and Nazism."
Sidner pointed out that while some of the phrases and terminology are not outwardly problematic, the intent behind co-opting such terms can be.
"The words may not appear obviously racist or sexist in themselves, but they have been co-opted by extremists and, in some cases, taken on new meanings," Sidner wrote.
Sidner added that not being careful on the internet can render a lot of negative response.
"Boys can be labelled as Nazi sympathizers in comments that can follow them for years; they might troll someone and be sued; they might fall further down the radicalization rabbit hole and begin to actively seek out extremist friends and ideology," Sidner warned.

All in all, Schroeder said that all of this is for the greater good, pointing out that she was her children's first teacher — a responsibility she doesn't take lightly.

"I taught them their ABCs, I potty trained them," she said. "My next big lesson is how to look at the media they are consuming constructively."

Schroeder later admitted, "All parents are trying to bend their kids' minds. Whether it's getting them to wash their hands when they normally wouldn't or getting them to think about social issues in a way that's going to help society get better."

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