Many parents are under the impression that they can save their teens from the attractions of sex, drugs, and pro-eating disorders by simply turning off their televisions or moving to a secluded island. Of course, anyone can use the parental control settings on a TV to block certain commercials and programs, but what about computers? What about social media? It sounds like things are getting a little more complicated to stop kids from binging, purging, and restricting.
The “model thin” image is advertised on all different social media platforms. In June 2010, a study by Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicinefound that more and more American teens are becoming influenced by social networking websites, which promote eating disorders in lieu of healthy dieting. Certain websites promote anorexia (Pro-Ana) while others promote bulimia (Pro-Mia). They also depict “thinspiration” photos of emaciated fashion models and celebrities, along with tips and techniques for maintaining dangerously thin physiques.
When I was a teen, the front page of a magazine would read, “Jennifer Aniston getting fat!”— even if it was a mere 3-pound weight gain. I felt I had to be that thin or I was going to be labeled “fat.” The portrayal of celebrities in magazines and on television always made me ask myself, “Why aren’t I thin enough?” or, “If I lose weight will I be prettier?” This is what ran through my mind when I was standing in line at CVS looking at the tabloid magazines. And then there was television. That was even worse!
It was definitely easy to restrict my meals, but why did I have to be thin to get society’s approval? The drugs kept me thin, but weight gain came hand in hand with sobriety. It is a constant battle to get sober, get healthy, obsess about my weight, and repeat.
So, what’s the bottom line? You can restrict their television, but what about Facebook? What about conversations with friends at school? What are parents to do? Or really… what can they do?