If your teen is following Andrew Tate on social media, it's time for a chat, say experts
Miami-based therapist Jacqueline Ravelo was in a session with one of her clients, a young male teen, when he brought up Andrew Tate. The young man wanted to know what Ravelo thought of Tate.
Haven’t heard the name Andrew Tate before? Well, if your teen spends time on the internet or social media, there’s a good chance Tate is on their radar. The 36-year-old former kickboxer has amassed a massive online following, including many young males, by spewing troubling and misogynistic remarks. A self-proclaimed life coach, Tate has been banned from most social media platforms. His Twitter account, which has 4.7 million followers, was reinstated when Elon Musk took over the company.
Tate once tweeted women should bear “some responsibility” for being sexually assaulted. Born in the U.S., but raised in England, the influencer also claimed in a now deleted video that he moved to Romania in response to the #MeToo movement because of the country’s more lax rape laws. And yet it was Romanian officials who arrested Tate and his brother in December; the pair are in the midst of a detainment in connection with allegations of human trafficking and rape. Throngs of his supporters in Greece — again, mostly teen males — marched through the streets this month chanting for Tate’s release.
As news of Tate’s legal troubles make international headlines, parents, educators and therapists all over the world are starting to notice the impact the influencer is having on young people, and there’s cause for concern. Educators in England are taking an active role addressing the issue, with lessons being incorporated into some schools to demonstrate how harmful Tate’s views are.
“Some parents have asked to speak to me after sessions, and they’re asking ‘What do we do?’” Ravelo tells Yahoo Life. “They have heard his message and they don’t like what he says. They don’t want their sons following his beliefs.”
But why are so many teens following this guy who broadcasts such inflammatory messages?
“He promotes that flashy lifestyle that lots of young people see and want,” says Courtney Conley, a Maryland-based therapist and wellness expert who specializes in helping youths. “Kids think ‘what is he doing that I can possibly do to get that and obtain that lifestyle?’”
Many of Tate’s videos and images have him flanked by beautiful girls, fancy cars and sought-after locations.
“Young folks are in a stage of development, and when they see things online they don’t always think and challenge or consider it through multiple lenses,” Conley says. “They are more likely to adopt it as the right view and not just one person’s view.”
Even if your teen has never mentioned Tate to you, Conley suggest being proactive and bringing up the issue. Ask your child if they have heard of Tate, and see what they make of his views.
“Listen to understand before you listen to respond,” Conley advises. “Give them space to talk about their thoughts and feelings before you jump in with your own thoughts, because if you don’t listen, that is the quickest way to shut kids down.”
While Tate may not have found an audience in your kid, there are plenty of other internet trolls spouting harmful messages and gaining followers on what Conley refers to as “rough online streets.”
It’s especially tricky given the internet is where many teens get a good bit of their information. Last year the Pew Research Center reported that 46% of teens says they use the internet “almost constantly.”
Joe Gagliese, CEO and co-founder of influencer agency Viral Nation, said social media algorithms have been shown to favor extreme or problematic content.
“Just like mainstream news, it simply grabs more eyeballs,” Gagliese tells Yahoo Life. “As a result, teens might not be watching the most positive or age-appropriate content and they may be picking up bad habits, behaviors and ideas.”
With her own clients who look up to Tate, Ravelo likes to point out discrepancies with his statements, objectively flagging what is untrue. That could involve something as simple as a quick internet search to discredit Tate’s information.
Ravelo cautions that parents be delicate in their approach, because if you come across as judgmental and aggressive, your child could shut down and go deeper down the rabbit hole. Building empathy is another way to get through to a teen.
“The reason Tate is so successful is because he dehumanizes woman and people,” Ravelo says. “That resonates a lot with boys struggling to be popular or get a girlfriend. Say to them, ‘You have sisters, how would you feel if someone talked to your sister that way? Would you agree? Would you want to beat that person up?’”
She says that’s usually when she sees a lightbulb go off in her clients. No matter what, keep the conversations going. Ask what a woman would need to do to deserve being assaulted, or to not have a job or to not make her own money. Keep the empathy questions coming until you see a shift in beliefs.
“I’ve noticed an uptick the past couple years of people who have been highly controversial and their platform is polarizing people,” Ravelo says. “People like Andrew Tate are extremely dangerous because of what he represents, and he has the possibility to sway a whole generation of young boys. It’s super-scary.”
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