App scroll hampers eating disorder recovery

This story by Natassia Chrysanthos first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14th September 2023.

Seventeen-year-old Katya Jaski is in recovery for anorexia after struggling with the condition for more than three years. But every time she opens her TikTok app, she finds the battle much harder.

‘‘You can just be scrolling and come across pro-eating disorder content. It can be disguised in different forms as well, which makes it hard to regulate,’’ she says.

Sometimes it’s people counting calories, while other times it’s people who say they are in recovery but still in a very unwell state. She finds that the most challenging.

Jaski will share her thoughts today at a roundtable convened by independent MP Zoe Daniel to look at what the government and e-safety agency can do to improve protections for people with an eating disorder on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Daniel said social media was compounding the difficulties faced by more than 1 million Australians who have suffered eating disorders and their families.

 

‘‘No company in any industry wants to be regulated. I understand, too, there are a lot of grey areas when you start trying to manage what’s on social media,’’ she said.

 

‘‘But increasingly the evidence and data is showing that [social media] is compounding disorders. There are so many issues affecting young people: COVID, lockdowns, time spent in the tunnel of social media. We can’t just throw up our hands. We all need to say: What can we do about it?’’

The roundtable will probe options including empowering the eSafety commissioner to remove content, a new industry code or standard, stronger industry self regulation or tasking a government working group to formulate recommendations.

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