By Ross Ellis
It’s time for parents to know about the research that shows a troubling trend in the mental health of our children. Peer cruelty, stress, depression, eating disorders, smoking, binge drinking, and using drugs are on the rise. Part of the cause is the Internet, part what our kids read, and sorry – but part of it is parents not communicating with their kids and setting the tone for their children’s attitudes and behaviors.
It is up to all parents to stay educated and monitor their children’s online presence. Below are some of the sites out kids visit on a daily basis. None of them help kids, nor do they encourage them to be kind and respectful or have great self-esteem.
Formspring And Ask.Fm
The former Formspring site looked and sounded tame enough. Even advertising to teens that it “let you share personal and interesting responses with people you know.” The site allowed the user to open an account and then let an anonymous audience–usually the teen’s peers–communicate with vicious–and I do mean vicious–openness. It even appeared to be “consensual” but no one should have been deceived. The site took cyber-attacks up to new heights and was just another venue for teens to transmit cruelty.
Ask.fm is often involved in cyberbullying incident — from casual cruelty to death threats. There have been a number of bullying-related suicides linked to use of the site, and one British family has released a public statement asking that the site be taken down following the suicide of their 16-year-old son.
Launched in 2010 as a rival to similar sites like Formspring and Honesty Box, ask.fm has since surpassed them in popularity. The Latvian-based site reportedly has over 40 million members. The site can be linked to Facebook and Twitter, so questions can be posted to friends and followers. Ask.fm has courted controversy because it doesn’t have any of the reporting, tracking or parental control processes you can find on other social media sites.
Most parents are not aware of these sites and it’s time to for Internet Parenting Education 101. These sites encourage severe cruelty and lack of social responsibility and empathy.
The Bimbo Game
This website encourages young girls to give their virtual character dolls breast implants and use diet pills for crash diets.
It’s called the “Miss Bimbo” Game and very popular among girls aged seven to seventeen years of age. The goal of the virtual game is for players to turn their naked virtual character doll into the “hottest, coolest, most famous bimbo in the whole world.” Players sign up for free and then earn “bimbo” dollars to spend making their doll the coolest bimbo.
Girls are told to “stop at nothing” to achieve that goal. And kids can buy:
Breast implants for $11,500 bimbo dollars (for bigger “bimbo” breasts)
Bimbo attitudes for $2000 bimbo dollars
Diet pills for $100 bimbo dollars
Additionally, you can purchase sexy lingerie to take the doll to a nightclub as well as clothes, food and pets and even play the lottery!
The site urges users to constantly keep the character at her target weight (pushing them to buy diet pills). But the ultimate prize is finding a billionaire boyfriend to be the doll’s “sugar daddy.” He’s the knight in shining armor who will bankroll her so she’ll have that endless gigantic expense account.
If the player runs out of virtual bimbo dollars, the girl can send cell phone text messages for $3 or use PayPal to boost her account.
Pro-Ana And Pro-Mia Sites
The pro-Ana …as in pro-anorexia.. or referred to as “ana” an anorexic girl and pro-Mia sites …as in pro-bulimia … promote the lifestyle of eating disorders. They also provide girls with “thinspiration” by posting photos of bony-thin fashion models.
Alarming research finds that kids as young as ten are learning weight loss or purging techniques from these websites.
Studies found that 96 percent of young eating disorder patients admit they learn purging and weight-loss methods while logged on.
Once girls are on the site, they learn tips such as: “Throw up in the shower—it covers up the sound.” “Use nail-growth polish so your nails won’t look so brittle.”
Below are the three pro-ana sites and the advice they offer girls:
• Ana’s Thinspiration: Thin Is Beautiful
Recent advice from their list of “40 reasons not to eat”:
“You don’t NEED food.”
“People will remember you as the ‘beautiful thin one.’
“You will be get fat if you eat today. Just put it off for one more day."
• Lovely Skinny Girls
A directory that lists great sites like:
Ana’s Underground Grotto: (information about anorexia and food, tips and tricks, quotes)
Anorexics.net (Information about eating disorders, recipes, diets and diet bill reviews).
Beautiful Perfection (Thinspiration, tips, pictures)… and more!
• Dying To Be Thin: A Pro-Ana Blog
After a very stressful few weeks, and a very naughty weekend, I am feeling “too fat to fit into my skinny jeans this week…it’s time for a good old-fashion FAST….Mostly water, maybe a little bit of Vitamin Water, a sip or two of soymilk for breakfast….But no food. Are you fasting with me? 30 hours food-free. Let’s do it! Think beautiful thoughts, girls! XOXO!”
These are just some of the many toxic sites that should make parents run to their kid’s room and start communicating immediately! Supervise your kids’ activities online, especially on sites such as these. At minimum, you should have their username/ password and sit down with them on a regular basis to monitor what’s happening online.
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