How to help your son navigate the manosphere

Gary Barker believes parents are inadvertently ceding too much ground to digital culture influencers who may not have their sons’ best interests at heart. As the president and CEO of the nonprofit think tank Equimundo, which promotes gender equality, Barker spends much of his time thinking about this problem. Some of what young boys encounter online can be purely engaging, fun, and confidence-building. And then there’s the “manosphere,” which loosely describes the online ecosystem of influencer content built around traditional masculine norms of self-sufficiency, dominance, toughness, and stoicism. Some of the content in the manosphere can be harmless and enjoyable, appealing to boys and men by offering well-intended health or well-being tips. But the harmful, serious content that surfaces is frequently tied to racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, and in some cases, violent rhetoric. If you think your son would reject such ideas out of hand, consider that the gateway to the more dangerous aspects of the manosphere is often absurd or irreverent content designed for maximum laughs rather than indoctrination. Other content in this space, like specious advice about money, dating, or politics, makes boys feel like they have knowledge about how the world really works — and teaches them how to take advantage of that insight. SEE ALSO: 5 social-emotional skills for parents In other words, the manosphere represents a unique parenting challenge: helping boys develop critical thinking skills about digital content they find entertaining and fulfilling without alienating them by passing strong judgment of their media consumption…How to help your son navigate the manosphere