Eating disorder communities have been with us as long as there were eating disorders. When I was in high school, long before anyone but a handful of innovative researchers used the Internet, some of the cheerleaders would support each other while they binged and purged. The "community" was geographically limited. After the Web came along, ED became an "interest community" not restricted to any location. The same goes for "pro-Ana" (for anorexia) and "pro-Mia" (for bulimia) community in social-networking and blogging sites. It's one of the darksides of the social Web that are alerting us to and teaching us about the many age-old risks that at-risk youth take. Virtual eating-disorder communities are also a byproduct of "the [US's] moral panic about obesity," according to "No Wannarexics Allowed: An Analysis of Online Eating Disorder Communities," a study that's part of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Digital Youth Project (here's its home page at the University of California, Berkeley). "In the 1990s, eating disorders were the body issue of the moment but that spot has now been taken over by concerns about excess weight…. Sites for the pro-ana/mia/ednos communities have proliferated while, at the same time, a general cultural conversation about eating disorders has waned. Initially, many [Web site] servers took down pro-ana/mia sites, but, with the emergence of social-networking sites, they have reappeared." Even this brief synopsis of the study offers insights into these online communities (note the three numbered points at the end), "primarily populated by women under the age of 20," 56% of whom identify themselves as teenagers. See also my "Eating disorders & the social Web" last spring, including a backgrounder from Hannah, very caring friend of a college student who suffers from an eating disorder who contacted me about this to help get the word out.
Safer Internet Day 2105
- Parent bullying: The one-upper society
- What is the best way to introduce screen media to our three-and-a-half-year-old?
- Internet Explorer had a long and important life, but it’s time to move on
- Seven good smartphone security habits
- Arkansas bill puts youth safety and privacy in jeopardy
- Android apps to get age rating and manual review
- Facebook clarifies policies on nudity, hate speech and other community standards
- Student Advisory Boards can inform bullying policies and prevention
- Apple’s new MacBook is enticing, but lack of ports gives pause
- Parents: Check your (online) behavior
- Arkansas law could force workers to friend their boss
- Age restrictions and privacy policies protect youth
- Net neutrality vote doesn’t end the debate
- Online safety is not just ‘about life’
- A Bully? My Kid? Impossible!