Having three young granddaughters I try to stay on top of news and events that might have a damaging effect on their lives. One such news item I have recently come across involved how easy it is for young people especially women to be drawn into the anorexic lifestyle.

In a recent article, written by David Rivelli on November 27, 2007,  found at: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=70761 our young people are finding advice on joining the anorexic community on their computers. Beware, the advice found on these web sites could cost your loved one their very life.

For those of you unfamiliar with this eating disorder it you may find the statistics alarming at best. Anorexia occurs when the person becomes obsessed with their weight and appearance, pursuing thinness to the point of starvation. It is a condition often seen in those professions, like gymnastics dance, or skating, where weight affects performance.

Sadly, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa it has been gaining momentum and now affects approximately seven million women and one million men in the United States. Forty-three percent of those afflicted are between the ages of 16 and 20.

To protect our young people web sites promoting anorexia must be shut down and while you may think that such Web sites are few and far between I hate to differ with you. Keith Sanderson, director of communication for the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa, tells us that “if you were to Google anorexia, it is likely that the LiveJournal pro-anorexia social networking community would come up almost No.1.” LiveJournal is the Internet’s second largest social-networking Web site and claims to be the largest pro-anorexia Web site in the world with more than 10,000 people signing into this community daily.

If you take the time to check out this site you will see that the site offers tips on how to hide anorexia from family members, encourages anorexic behaviors, serving up graphic images to motivate those who visit the site, so that they will continue the anorexic lifestyle.

To fight back Sanderson provides the following tips to keep your children from accessing these Web sites:

  • Purchase parental control software that will allow you to filter what your children are able to access on their computers. One such software is found for under $40 at Contentwatch.com.
  • Set a curfew on how late your children are allowed to access the Internet or work on their computer.
  • Teach yourself how to log onto the Web sites your children frequent such as MySpace, YouTube, and LiveJournal.
  • If you experience any concerns regarding your child’s eating habits contact a professional immediately. Anorexia is about control and you will find yourself out of your element without the guidance of a specialist in eating disorders. The faster you recognize the problem and get help the better chance your child has of avoiding the health dangers associated with.

Unfortunately, these sites are not illegal so it is up to you to monitor and be responsible for your child’s computer internet experience. I hope that this information is a valuable guide to any of you with children who may be experimenting with something that they are too young to control.

[tags]anorexia, anorexic, anorexia nervosa, eating disorders, computer exposure, LiveJournal, YouTube, Content watch, MySpace, Internet, Google,David Rivelli, Keith Sanderson, [/tags]