YouTube is updating its rules for content that includes eating disorders or behavior that may inspire eating disorders, according to the company He said Tuesday.
The Google-owned video streaming site already has community guidelines banning content that “glorifies or promotes” eating disorders, Dr. Garth Graham, director of YouTube Health, wrote in a blog post. In the coming weeks, Graham said, additional guidelines will be added to block content that contains “imitation” behavior that might inspire people at risk of developing an eating disorder to imitate it.
Examples of this include content that displays severe calorie restriction or cleansing. According to the post, bullying based on weight will also be banned as it relates to eating disorders.
In addition, YouTube will place some age restrictions on certain content that may be educational to some viewers, but not have the same value for children and teens. YouTube says this means you won’t be able to view related content if you’re signed out of your account, or if the video is embedded on another website.
Graham said the guidelines “will take some time to fully ramp up.” Nor does it mean that every video featuring an eating disorder or diet topic will be banned. Videos that follow the site’s rules for Educational, documentary, scientific and artistic content And he will allow. YouTube is also adding crisis resource panels on some videos.
“Context is going to be a major factor when it comes to this often accurate content,” Graham said.
Content viewers are exposed to in the media It may be anyone cultural or social factors That can make a person more likely to develop disordered eating patterns, especially in people with diabetes Children and adolescents. Technology companies incl Instagram And meta They announced some tools or steps to limit certain content for young people, but some of them are He argues that it is not enough to fight Availability of media that may tip the balance as to whether someone has disordered eating patterns.
Eating disorder and media consumption
that An eating disorder is a mental health condition Disrupts the way a person eats to the point that it interferes with their daily life or becomes dangerous to their health. Common types include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Disordered eating can be described as an unhealthy group of behaviors around foods It can include food restriction or obsession, but not to the diagnostic extent of an eating disorder.
YouTube says it has worked with experts in the field of eating disorders, including the National Eating Disorders Association, to develop new guidelines and help identify and eliminate what is considered behavior that may cause imitative eating disorder.
Erin Parks, clinical psychologist and co-founder of the online eating disorder treatment company to equip, explaining in an email that because we live in a society that values thinness and “reinforces beliefs that individuals have more control over their health than research suggests,” it’s understandable that a viewer may sometimes mirror the behavior of one of the many dieting videos out there. However, Parks added, dieting is “the most common behavior” that may lead someone to develop an eating disorder. The exact risk depends on the person.
“People who already have cognitive distortions about their bodies and people who have health-related cognitive distortions are more likely to develop an eating disorder,” Parks said. Cognitive distortions These are (usually negative) thoughts or feelings about yourself that may not be based in reality.
Read more: The dark side of “what I eat in the day” videos
The pandemic has created a perfect storm for disordered eaters
During the COVID-19 pandemic, symptoms appeared Eating disorders worsened To many people and More people have been treated for eating disorders. This is no coincidence, according to Parks.
“During the pandemic, kids weren’t physically in school and many were spending hours on social media viewing unrealistic images that were out of balance with seeing people in real life,” Parks said. “People come in a wide variety of ages, shapes, sizes, etc.” She added that prolonged exposure to the content — hours as opposed to minutes — can amplify its impact.
“While limiting content is a good start, limiting time spent on the platform will likely have an even greater impact,” Parks noted.
What content should we be looking at instead?
New YouTube guidelines for eating disorder content will be posted.in the coming weeksAs the company directs them, it may become clearer what types of diet videos, specifically, may be age-restricted or removed. In general, YouTube says. Enforces community guidelines Through a combination of human review and machine learning.
If you’re a parent of a child or teen looking to supplement your child’s screen time with content that can foster a healthy relationship with food, Parks suggests content that “highlights and celebrates the many purposes of food—to maintain and revitalize energy, to socialize, to embrace culture and comfort.” Additionally, avoid listing YouTube fitness influencers with an individual body type, and draw on content from people of different ages and body types.
“Most importantly, I encourage everyone to get off screen and into real life,” said Parks.