I may be preaching to the choir when I talk about the good the Internet has been to provide a quick source of information and entertainment. However, it is also a source of bad information and harmful inspiration for the vulnerable.
The person with a body dysmorphic disorder (incorrect self body image) and has an eating disorder may be extremely vulnerable; especially teenagers with eating disorders. There are actual sites on the net to encourage people with eating disorders to continue with their disorder as if it was a normal thing to do. They are called thin inspiration sites and Thinspo is one of them.
These site show pictures and videos of extremely thin people and encourage this skinny ideal of the world to continue. They encourage this extreme low weight idea or cultural aspect by showing well known celebrities who are either very dangerous skinny or emaciated.
According to about.com writer, Susan Cowden, MS, “When these websites began popping up, they were known simply as Pro-Ana (pro-anorexia), Pro-Mia (pro-bulimia) and Pro-Ed (pro-eating disorder) sites. These sites may or may not have other information posted on them, in addition to Thinspo. This other information may include instructions on how to have an eating disorder, weight loss tips, suggested eating disorder behaviors, as well as how to hide the behaviors/eating disorder from parents and physicians.”
The thinspiration sites have been around since the 90s. The pro-anorexia and pro bulimia sites have been around since the beginning of the Internet. http://mashable.com/2013/12/05/thinspiration/
These sites have been known to glorify the emaciated body and discourage individuals from getting treatment for eating disorders. They call the phenomenon a lifestyle choice. Studies have shown that even the average person who maintains a proper weight can easily be encouraged to gain weight and eat more from sites that pro-eating as a lifestyle. Therefore, it is even more important for a parent to monitor their children’s activity on the net whether they are underweight or overweight.
“According to NEDA, 20 million American women and 10 million American men suffer from a “clinically significant eating disorder” at some stage in their lives — and many cases go unreported. As well as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, people suffer from binge eating disorder and EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), in which sufferers might show symptoms of anorexia and/or bulimia but are considered to be within a normal weight range.”
As you know I wrote about conforming and it is easy to conform to a concept if it seems to be a good one. However, as was mentioned before, the Internet does not always provide good information and can be dangerous at times.
Who would maintain a site like this?
These sites are not medical sites providing sound information; they are usually maintained by people who are not qualified to give out such information and usually have an eating disorder themselves. Some countries have legislated against these sites and some social media sites will not postings from these pro-eating groups. Among the social conscious websites are: Yahoo sites, Tumblr, and Facebook.
The modern parent has a responsibility to monitor the sites their children are visiting; not only pornography sites, or drug sites, but these pro-eating disorder sites as well. They should also be checking the emails. Have a communication well in place with your child’s treatment team if he or she is already in treatment and ask if a software program to limit access or completely limiting access to the Internet is advisable depending on the severity of the disorder.