Pinterest and Eating Disorders

English: Red Pinterest logo
English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many social networks do you belong to? Perhaps you have a Facebook profile, maybe a Twitter account, LinkedIn professional profile…the sheer number of social networking platforms is mind boggling and more are introduced it seems every few weeks. It has been almost a year since Google+ was limitedly introduced and now usership is in the multi-millions.

The same goes for Pinterest.

According to Forbes magazine Pinterest ranks third in popularity for social networking sites, following Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is designed as a platform to share your favorite photos. It might not surprise you that Pinterest is especially popular among women, while Google+ early adopters have been mostly males between the ages of 25 and 34.

Over the past decade much has been written about how social networking sites including questioning how healthy it is for people to be framing their whole social life in a virtual reality. A certain amount of anonymity is enabled by virtual reality. People might be a little more outspoken in a “tweet” than they would be in a face to face conversation. Many companies have learned hard lessons in saying things the wrong way on Facebook, careers have been destroyed, people have been bullied on blogs, Twitter, chat rooms and Facebook. People can create a whole new persona in a virtual reality.

Now it is Pinterest’s turn to understand the responsibility involved with hosting a social platform. It is reported that you can search for photos on Pinterest, including photos about such subjects as anorexia, “thinspiration”, etc. Fortunately, as CBS Los Angeles reported on May 31, 2012:

“Because of the controversy, Pinterest recently changed its policies about posting inappropriate content, stating: ‘We updated our acceptable-use policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.’ Pinterest recently partnered with the National Eating Disorders Association, so when someone searches terms like “thinspiration,” a link and numbers for help hotlines appear at the top of the site. Pinterest also has a report option on every pin, so visitors can flag and report pins.”

In a perfect world, all social networking would be a healthy past time. But we are human and many of us suffer from mental health issues that drive our thoughts and actions. If you are a parent, take the time to understand how your children (both adolescents and young adults) are using social networks.

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