What are Pro-ana Websites?
"Pro-ana" (a truncation of "pro-anorexia") is a term used to describe websites that actively promote anorexia. These sites feature tips on how to avoid eating, pictures of near-skeletal supermodels, "success" stories from girls who have lost dangerous amounts of weight, and various other types of "thinspiration." You'll also find sister "pro-mia" sites which cater to bulimic Web users.
Note that there is an effort underway to change the terms pro-ana and pro-mia into positive ones associated with eating disorder recovery. While a handful of good and helpful sites will bear these labels, the majority of them are still dangerous sites encouraging teens to starve themselves or intentionally throw up.
Pro-ana and pro-mia sites are a perfect example of the Internet's dual nature: the Web is a powerful tool, both for good and for bad.
Concerns for Parents
- Eating disorders lead to psychological problems, poor health, and, eventually, death. ProAna websites will give your child chillingly specific and effective pointers on how to starve herself to death. If your child or teen is even visiting ProAna websites, chat rooms, or forums, she is at high risk for developing anorexia or related issues.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Use some sort of content filtering software on your child's computer. A good web filter should prevent your child from accessing pro-anorexia websites. But if your child is surfing the web with no filter protection, pro-ana websites (and other dangerous web pages) are wide open for your child to view and act on.
- Even if you have a filter, you may want to try searching for pro-ana and pro-mia sites to see what comes up. If you see anything inappropriate that your filter somehow missed, take the time to blacklist those sites.
Where Can I Learn More?
TIME magazine has also discussed ProAna websites in Anorexia Goes High-Tech.
Read article to learn more about the issues associated with banning these dangerous websites.