‘‘I love my bones!’’ – self-harm and dangerous eating youth behaviours in Portuguese written blogs
‘‘I love my bones!’’ – self-harm and
dangerous eating youth behaviours in
Portuguese written blogs
Teresa Soﬁa Castro and Antonio Jose Osorio
Teresa Soﬁa Castro is a
and Antonio Jose Osorio
are both at the Institute of
Education, University of
Minho, Braga, Portugal.
Purpose – Family, media and peer pressure seem to inﬂuence adolescent development activating the
perception and internalisation of thin ideals that may trigger dieting, bingeing and other self-harming
disorders. The proliferation of problematic online content consumed and produced by young people,
such as in the case of pro-anorexic web sites, seem to worry not only parents but also young people. The
aim of this work is to analyse content produced by a group of Portuguese speaking pro-anorexic
adolescents in order to better understand how social and cultural pressures may inﬂuence their
disruptive behaviours and how they seem to cope with them.
Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative exploratory content analysis examined 11
Portuguese-speaking blogs written by teenagers (boys and girls) between 13 and 19 years old who
use these environments to validate their pro-anorexic lifestyle, share body and image issues or search
for diets and support from like-minded others.
Findings – Blogs content analysis suggest that peer pressure, need for acceptance, and conﬂicts with
parents denote the power of subliminal messages, revealing that, even at very young ages,
stereotypical messages may be easily understood and internalised. The authors organised the
collected evidence into three categories: common shared content found in the pro-anorexic blogs;
celebrities and fashion models that young people worship as thinspiration; how youth deal with parental,
peer and social and cultural pressures.
Research limitations/implications – Although this is a very small group of blogs, this work offers a
research contribution about pro-anorexic dangerous content consumed, produced and disseminated
online by Portuguese speaking young people. This exploratory study is a starting point for further
research. This is a ﬁeld the authors intend to explore deeply using more child centred and participative
research techniques in order to fully understand the issues at stake and to get the actual young people’s
point of view and experiences.
Originality/value – Provisional ﬁndings trigger the authors’ concern and scientiﬁc interest in learning
more about pro-anorexic and other self-harming disruptive online content produced and consumed by
young people. With this study they aim to help to raise awareness among parents, caregivers and
teachers about problematic eating and self-harming contents as they may affect adolescent
development and well-being.
Keywords Internet, Adolescence, Body-image, Peer pressure, Pro-anorexia, Thinspiration, Portugal
Paper type Research paper
Received 25 March 2013
Revised 10 July 2013
Accepted 15 August 2013
This doctoral investigation is
ﬁnanced by POPH – QREN –
Type 4.1 – Advanced Training,
European Social Fund and
Portuguese national funding
from the Ministry of Education
and Science, through FCT –
Fundacao para a Ciencia e a
Tecnologia, under a research
grant with the reference
The need to conduct this exploratory study arose during a literature review about speciﬁc
risky contents easily available on the internet, as is the case of disrupting and self-harming
pro-anorexia material. The emergency of online socialising environments coupled with the
increasingly active participation of young people on the internet provides complex venues
that challenge and worry society in general, parents, caregivers, educators and scientists.
Therefore, the aim of this work is to analyse contents produced by a group of Portuguese
speaking pro-anorexic adolescents in order to better understand how social and cultural
VOL. 14 NO. 4 , pp. 321-330, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1747-3616
pressures may inﬂuence their disruptive behaviours and how they seem to cope with
To this end, ﬁrst we present a brief theoretical framework to explain the purpose and
importance of this study that ﬁts into the overall theme of a broader doctoral research
project. Second, we make a brief description of the methodological and ethical choices
made during this exploratory study. Then, in order to get a deep understanding of the
pro-anorexic reality among Portuguese speaking young people, we present a descriptive
and interpretative analysis, followed by a brief discussion of the data collected from the
empirical corpus of this investigation. Finally, we draw some provisional ﬁndings and
evaluate our work in terms of its limitations and value.
Issues related to standards of beauty, ﬁtting in and body image are important concerns that
may play an important role in the adolescent development and well-being. During the
transitional stage (Gallego et al., 2011) known as adolescence, when body and personality
begins to take shape and change, some life experiences can cause anxiety and even lack of
conﬁdence or self-esteem that can trigger problems related with body image dissatisfaction.
Fashion industry, the media and the need for social acceptance, particularly among peers,
seem to play a very signiﬁcant and inﬂuential role that may challenge adolescent cognitive,
emotional and behavioural responses in order to achieve a more slender body. Tiggemann
et al. (2000), supported by research about body image, point out that in response to social
and cultural pressures and motivated by body dissatisfaction ‘‘the majority of adolescent
girls wish to be thinner’’ (p. 645) and because of that ‘‘many engage in dieting and other
weight loss behaviours’’ (p. 645).
According to the literature, an integrated analysis including the various roles played by
family, peers, and the media is required in order to study the culture of thinness (Dhillon and
Dhawan, 2011) as a symbol of happiness, health and social success revered by youth in the
modern and globalised society. Since family is the ﬁrst socialising agent in young people’s
lives, parents and siblings’ behaviours towards weight (e.g. judgements, comments about
their own and others weight) seem to inﬂuence the eating patterns and the body image of
young people (Ricciardelli and McCabe, 2001; Ricciardelli et al., 2000). The socialisation
process in school also inﬂuences young people’s lives. Peers pressure during youth reaches
a dominant role in the adolescent life; processes like the perception and internalisation of
thin ideals (when the individual associates thinness with positive ideals, like happiness,
attractiveness or status) are activated. Also, teasing and comparisons of body appearances
among peers are common, and may lead to image and body dissatisfaction, which may, in
turn, trigger dieting, bingeing and other eating disorders (Ricciardelli and McCabe, 2001;
Ricciardelli et al., 2000). According to evidence from a study by Tiggemann and Miller’s
(2010) ‘‘the majority of girls found out about web sites through their friends, with 82.5 per
cent reporting this as the major source, followed by search engines (e.g. Google) at 17.5 per
cent. The only ‘‘other’’ source commonly reported was family members, such as brothers
and sisters’’ (p. 83). However, despite the inﬂuence that family and peers may have, the
media seem to be the strongest sociocultural inﬂuence (Ricciardelli et al., 2000; Rodgers
et al., 2012; Tiggemann et al., 2000) in the eating patterns and the body image of young
people (Anschutz et al., 2011). It is believed that the media seem to inﬂuence and affect
negatively the image, size and body shape of individuals (Ricciardelli et al., 2000) by
promoting emaciated stereotypical ideals impossible to achieve and leading youth to ‘‘the
belief that thinness and attractiveness are the cultural norm’’ (Tiggemann et al., 2000,
p. 655). Images of attractive muscular men and extra-slim women in ‘‘magazines, television,
ﬁlms, billboards, and other electronic and print media’’ (Lorenzen et al., 2004, p. 743) invade
the daily lives of young people ‘‘evok[ing] comparisons between themselves and [those]
unrealistic media images of thinness and/or muscularity’’ (Lorenzen et al., 2004, p. 743).
According to theorists, exposure to that sort of pictures that promote extreme thinness
(e.g. through dieting, exercise, Photoshop manipulated images, cosmetic surgery) is linked
to eating disorders pathologies (Anschutz et al., 2008; Ricciardelli et al., 2000), decrease of
PAGE 322 YOUNG CONSUMERS VOL. 14 NO. 4
self-esteem (Bardone-Cone and Cass, 2007a), dieting (Tiggemann et al., 2000), and body
image dissatisfaction (Anschutz et al., 2008; Clay et al., 2005).
More recently, the emergence and visibility of social media-sharing services in the internet
drew the attention of society. The proliferation of unregulated and problematic material
consumed, disseminated and produced by young people, such is the case of ‘‘pro-ana’’
(also known as pro-anorexia is not listed as a disease; pro-anorexia is a social movement
that honours anorexic behaviours as a lifestyle) contents, seem to increase and stimulate all
sort of unsafe eating, image, self-harming and social disordered behaviours whose
consequences seem to worry not only parents (Ponte et al., 2012) but also young people
(Livingstone et al., 2013). Pro-anorexia is a social movement inspired in the mental disease
known as ‘‘Anorexia Nervosa’’, and exists in the internet through online web sites (Fox et al.,
2005). Being ‘‘pro-ana’’ is a lifestyle choice (Bardone-Cone and Cass, 2007b; Brotsky and
Giles, 2007; Davies and Lipsey, 2003; Giles, 2006), grounded on anorexic behaviours
(Williams, 2009) that results in ‘‘an effective way to diet’’ (Overbeke, 2008, p. 56) with
subsequent risks to health.
Meanwhile, ‘‘pro-ana’’ platforms seem to gain increasing importance and meaning in young
people lives as they seem to lack ofﬂine support from health professionals, family and
friends. As Juarascio et al. (2010) explain, individuals suffering from eating pathologies have
more difﬁculty in the establishment of social ties, because they avoid social mingling
especially if it involves food, and normally they suffer from depression, emotional confusion,
anxiety, obsessions and shyness. The pro-anorexic online platforms tend to become popular
because they represent a safe, neutral (Brotsky and Giles, 2007; Dias, 2003; Williams, 2009)
and inclusive environment, where the deviant and marginalised group of individuals can
come together; ﬁnd relief and acceptance to express their feelings (Wold et al., 2009) and
thoughts; can validate disruptive and self-harm behaviours without fearing criticisms or
rejection. By self-harm we mean ‘‘a category of practices that cause the body harm
regardless of intention (e.g. – ‘‘cutting’’, eating disorders, and suicidal behaviour)’’ (Boyd
et al., 2010).
Given this theoretical framework, and taking in consideration that: young people are active
consumers and producers of problematic online contents that are easily disseminated and
available in the internet; pro-anorexia is a potentially harmful and growing social movement;
and ‘‘pro-ana’’ web sites stimulate unhealthy behaviours that can injure young people, the
need arises for a more deep study of these youth generated contents once they encourage
to a potentially harmful and risky lifestyle grounded in disruptive and self-harming
behaviours like fasting, cutting or suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Methodological and ethical decisions
During the task of reviewing the literature on problematic contents on the internet,
pro-anorexia literature keywords like ‘‘thinspiration’’, ‘‘pro-ana’’, ‘‘ana prayer’’, and ‘‘thin is
beautiful’’ guided us through an online search using Google. From the surprisingly high
amount of results obtained the ﬁrst web site that caught our attention was a blog written by a
Portuguese teenager boy. This means that if in the past, disruptive eating behaviours were
considered a problem that only affected women it also corroborates that ‘‘disordered eating
behaviours can occur regardless of gender’’ (Juarez et al., 2012, p. 48), age or ethnicity
(Derenne and Beresin, 2006; Williams, 2009). Thereafter, we became interested in analysing
the contents produced by this adolescent boy but also the material written by other
adolescents that were following these blogger testimonials. We mapped 11 Portuguese
(ﬁve) and Brazilian (six) blogs written by boys (two) and girls (nine), aged between 13 and 19
years old. For several months we observed passively the interactions and the contents of the
blogs. The use of a passive observation helped us gain access to an authentic and
spontaneous pro-anorexic environment and to get more acquainted with the pro-anorexic
slang, and daily life of young people with eating disruptive behaviours. In order to analyse
the data and deepen knowledge regarding the ‘‘pro-ana’’ movement in Portuguese written
VOL. 14 NO. 4
YOUNG CONSUMERS PAGE 323
context, we used a qualitative approach to study the blogs considered eligible to meet the
goals of the research.
Considering the secrecy that surrounds these environments we made some choices to meet
our ethical principles and dilemmas, which we will explain next.
Public and private
Young people perceive the concepts ‘‘public’’ and ‘‘private’’ differently from adults. What
they post online is private for ‘‘people they know in real life (e.g. parents, friends, teachers,
etc.)’’ (Stern, 2004, p. 277) who are not allowed to ‘‘see, hear or read it, regardless of who
else does’’ (Stern, 2004, p. 277). Also researchers may be perceived as intruders capable of
damaging these online groups (Eysenbach and Till, 2001), ‘‘[b]ut we also cannot use
privacy to justify not looking when people are hurting or when they’re crying out for help’’
(Boyd, 2009, para.23). Taking this in consideration, we established some moral guidelines to
select and use only publicly available data (Brownlow and O’Dell, 2002) (this is explained in
the conﬁdentiality subtopic).
During the exploratory study, we were faced with a big challenge regarding informed
consent. But, despite the ethical dilemmas, we also were conscious that the dismantlement
of the group was not a research goal. In order to consciously resolve this concern, we
researched whether consent was avoided in other studies. We found out that informed
consent was not requested in the following researches: Dias (2003), Giles (2006), Laksmana
(2002) Lyons et al. (2006), Walstrom (2000), Norris et al. (2006), Harshbarger et al. (2009)
and Boero and Pascoe (2012). Thus, attending our research goals and the unique
circumstances of this group we did not ask for permission to gather and analyse the publicly
available data posted in the blogs.
To protect the conﬁdentiality of the pro-anorexic bloggers we have encrypted the data
collected in folders that are only accessible the researchers involved; information such as
the blogger name (or nickname), and the blog URL will not be disclosed; personal pictures
or other material capable of identifying these individuals in the web will not be revealed; iv)
complete verbatim transcriptions will be avoided and will be translated in international
research products; we used a code (B1 to B11) to classify the blogs.
In order to respond to the theoretical framework presented in the ﬁrst part of this article, we
organised the collected evidence into three categories: common shared contents found in
the pro-anorexic blogs; celebrities and fashions models that young people worship as
thinspiration; how youth deal with parental, peers and social and cultural pressures.
The pro-anorexic blogs share self-harming common contents
It is possible to recognise common contents that enable to identify these blogs as ‘‘pro-ana’’
socialising and intimate platforms. In the web logs we were able to ﬁnd information about
diets (e.g. milk diet; Beyonce diet; Angelina Jolie diet), drugs (e.g. laxatives, diuretics,
energetic, appetite suppressants), tips and tricks (e.g. to induce vomit: chew well the food to
make it easier and less painful the expulsion of food when vomiting; drinking plenty of water
helps in the expelling of the food afterwards; avoid crispy, spicy and acidic food; vomiting
within ten minutes after the ingestion of food; to disguise traces of vomiting: vomit in the
shower; to hide weight loss: wear baggy clothes; to distract the mind from food and deceive
hunger: bubble gum; cigars; heartburn pills; clean the WC; sleep; to hide cutting practice:
make the cuts in body parts that are easy to hide, with clothing or bracelets, such as the legs,
stomach, ankles and wrists); discussions around the most effective exercises and ﬁtness
PAGE 324 YOUNG CONSUMERS VOL. 14 NO. 4
routines to lose weight (e.g. dance, gymnastics, ballet, martial arts, swimming, running);
information about medical experiences (e.g. treatments, doctors, hospitalisation); personal
pictures that are posted as proof of emaciation and cutting; to obtain peers approval; as
inspiration for other ‘‘pro-anas’’; thinspirational contents (all sort of material that inspires,
encourages and supports these young people to behave in an anorexic way, e.g. quotes,
music, videos, TV series, pictures); reporting feeling parental control in the internet (some of
those who felt that kind of pressure decided to change the web log URL); testimonials about
cutting, suicidal thoughts and self-punishment practices; health problems that arise as a
consequence of bloggers disruptive eating behaviours (e.g. hair loss; stomach ache;
tiredness; low heart rate; depression; menorrhea; bone pain; blurred vision and dizziness;
To better visualise where and how often we found these contents, observe Table I where a
code from B1 to B11 was assigned to each blog.
Celebrities and fashion models are body image thinspirations
Pictures of celebrities (movie stars, singers and top models) are the blogs most posted
thinspirational contents. In the blogs, we were able to see pictures of thin women/men,
particularly models and celebrities. They post those pictures as an inspiration to achieve
body and image goals. Those celebrities are used to get media attention for reasons that are
related with their eating disruptive behaviours, and others because they have died from
anorexia or other eating disruptive behaviour. The pictures work as a stimulus for maintaining
diets, starving and weight loss. They also post curiosities and information about celebrities,
such as how they remain in shape or how the anorexia affects(ed) their lives.
Inspirational models mentioned in these web logs are, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley, Megan
Fox, Lindsay Lohan, Taylor Momsen (also known as Jenny Humphrey in Gossip Girl),
Miranda Kerr, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse (deceased), Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Jeremy
Gillitzer (deceased), Avril Lavigne, Nina (role played by Natalie Portman in Black Swan) and
the twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Pro-anorexic testimonials about dealing with parental, peers and other social and cultural
The testimonials published in the blogs seem to reﬂect not only the inner self of the
individuals but also internal and external conﬂicts and dilemmas. In the free judgemental
environment of the blog, feelings of misunderstanding, insecurity, frustration, and
depression are expressed. To better understand the intimate environment of these
platforms a subjective interpretative analysis of selected testimonials will follow.
Table I Common features found in the Portuguese written blogs
Examples of contents found in the pro-anorexic
Information about diets
Information about drugs
Tips and tricks
Exercise and ﬁtness routines
Pictures as proof of emaciation and cutting
Thinspirational TV series (e.g. America’s Next
Top Model, Skins, Gossip Girl)
Report parental control in internet
Changed the blog URL
Cutting, suicidal thoughts and self-punishment
VOL. 14 NO. 4
YOUNG CONSUMERS PAGE 325
Dealing with parental pressure
Conﬂicts with parents are frequently reported. Conﬂicts around food or appearance are
frequent causes of divergences that usually start when sudden decrease in appetite,
skipping meals and weight loss becomes noticed.
Examples (our translation):
(. . .) my mother is keeping a close eye on me (B9).
I invented that chocolate, ice cream and chips make me sick [. . .] to stop them [parents] from
offering them to me . . . (B9).
Dealing with peers pressure
In the sentence below it is important to notice the use of words like ‘‘obligation’’ that reﬂects
the level of demand they place on themselves. ‘‘School’’ reﬂects that this is kind of pressure
that comes from peers. ‘‘[B]efore school starts’’ is the timeframe that one of the bloggers has
to achieve the acceptable weight and it also seems to reinforce the need to be ready to ﬁt in
before facing peers, possible judgments or body and weight comparisons.
Example (our translation):
I have an obligation to be at most [. . .] kg before school starts (B2). [For conﬁdentiality reasons we
have erased the weight.]
In the following example ‘‘bullying’’ is the clue word, suggesting that possibly weight is the
motive to have been bullied before and, because of that, the weight became a major
Example (our translation):
Makes 4 years I study in the same college and I’m afraid to suffer from bullying again (B2).
Dealing with other social and cultural pressures
Others opinion matters and is important for getting personal acceptance. We interpret the
use of expressions like ‘‘life at stake’’ or ‘‘[t]he way people see me’’ in the sentences below
as, no matter at what cost, body image matters and what people may think of or the opinions
they express about one self-image is meaningful to get social acceptance and to achieve
personal fulﬁlment. At the end, all the starvation sacriﬁces (e.g. ‘‘I’ll manage to eat till 800
calories or less’’) are justiﬁed when social approval is granted.
Examples (our translation):
(. . .) I think I’ll manage to eat till 800 calories or less. I have to do so. It’s my life at stake. The way
people see me and the future (B9).
The following sentences express the power of subliminal messages. As we will see they
seem to suggest that, even at a very young age, body image preconceptions may be easily
well understood and internalised. For instance, thinness seems to project a mental image of
success and happiness. However, they are also aware that such desired perfection is not
achievable without health prejudice.
Examples (our translation):
Fat, happy? I doubt it! (B1).
(. . .) it is impossible to be healthy and have the perfect body (B1).
In the world we live, chubby have no chance (B3).
I know I’m killing myself, but being fat is worse than dying (B3).
Also pro-anorexic testimonials reveal negative moods. Feelings like despair, frustration or
being misunderstood by family, friends or peers are very common in these digital journals.
Examples (our translation):
I’m weak. I cannot stand this [. . .] I want to disappear [. . .] Nobody understands my pain . . . (B9).
PAGE 326 YOUNG CONSUMERS VOL. 14 NO. 4
And feelings of pride and joy are expressed when goals are accomplished.
Example (our translation):
I love my bones all over my body (. . .) I am a thinspiration (B11).
Blogs content analysis suggest that peers pressure, need for acceptance, and conﬂicts with
parents denote the power of subliminal messages, revealing that, even at very young ages,
stereotypical messages may be easily well understood and internalised. During the
exploratory study we have found a positive relationship between social and cultural
pressures and engaging in disruptive and self-harming/destructive behaviours, such as
starving or cutting. Bloggers testimonials support this inference pointing us some possible
causes that may have triggered the dangerous and self-harming behaviours as a way to
deal with external and internal pressures: suffering from bullying in school for being fat (B1),
the ‘‘nobody likes me’’ feeling (B4, B5), the desire of being a fashion model (B7),
obsessive-compulsive disorder (diagnosed in one case) (B3), depression (B11), social
pressures with weight (B3), not accepting the body growth turning into an adult body (B8).
Although, studies suggest that no negative effect comes from viewing pro-anorexic contents
(Juarascio et al., 2010), according to our experience on the subject and studies from
Bardone-Cone and Cass (2007) and Custers and Van Den Bulck (2009), we tend to share
another point-of-view. We therefore believe that regularly viewing images of thin people and
pro-anorexic contents may activate negative impacts and consequences for young people’s
self-esteem (Bardone-Cone and Cass, 2007a); and visiting ‘‘pro-ana’’ web sites may trigger
unsafe responses, like engaging in self-harming/destructive behaviours to get a slimmer
perfect shaped body and be just like the celebrities they worship.
However, young people ‘‘are not necessarily passive recipients that are simply ‘inﬂuenced’
by media and/or group dynamics’’ (Mulveen and Hepworth, 2006, p. 285), they are also
‘‘actively creating, changing and making sense of their social worlds’’ (Mulveen and
Hepworth, 2006, p. 285) sometimes producing and disseminating problematic contents and
contributing to the onset of collateral physical and psychological health damages that may
endanger their own and other young people’s lives. Given those reasons we cannot assure
that these environments are harmless. And a worrying proof is the dangerous contents that
followers read and share through their own web logs. Of the 11 blogs we have analysed ﬁve
have hundreds of followers (B1-176 followers; B3-251; B6-104, B7-423, and B11-362
followers. This data has collected on March 12, 2012); three have less than 100 followers;
and only three have less than ﬁfty followers. Pro-anorexic web sites are resourceful
repositories to which one can easily get access and ﬁnd a huge list of risky contents from
which we believe that more negative (than positive) outcomes are expected as they
contribute for: the proliferation of self-harm and problematic eating behaviours contents;
encouraging body, image and self-esteem disruptive behaviours; irreversible damages to
young peoples health; promoting alienation from ofﬂine social ties; the growth of the online
pro-anorexic dangerous movement.
In regard to the analysed blogs, we are led to believe that the internet is a powerful mean that
helps keeping the ‘‘pro-ana’’ online movement alive, contributing for the consumption,
dissemination and production of more problematic contents. During the study we have
noticed that, for instance, one blogger started the blog after a research for diets on the
internet; other bloggers see the internet as a wide source of diet information and a powerful
tool to meet like-minded virtual friends; another one recognised that the blog was a harming
Consequently, it is important to note that parents, caregivers and teachers have an important
role throughout young’s people development in order to contribute with a safer
psychological, emotional and social environment that can help prepare young people to
critically evaluate social and cultural messages as well as the information they search for or
VOL. 14 NO. 4
YOUNG CONSUMERS PAGE 327
ﬁnd online preventing them of secretly engaging in seriously disruptive and
For this group of young bloggers social acceptance, happiness and success is associated
to standards of ﬂawless beauty and perfection. So, during the exploratory study we read
about worrying obsessive concerns with food, self-image and ways to achieve the ‘‘perfect’’
body. To achieve body and image goals the individuals wrote about how they were willing to
endanger their own health. Interestingly, in the two young male blogs, we were able to notice
that they were obsessed with pictures of thinness (like the girls), and not with muscular or
manly bodies. The internet becomes popular among these groups because it is a powerful
resource that helps the maintenance of dangerous behaviours and it also represents a safe
nest where pro-anorexics can share information and experiences with other like-minded
individuals. We also observed that once they begin to bond online with other ‘‘pro-ana’’
followers, the strongest pressure that sustains the unsafe eating, image and social
disordered behaviours comes from the need to keep the anorexic lifestyle in order to receive
support from the pro-anorexic group.
Although this is a very small group of blogs, this work offers a research contribution about
pro-anorexic dangerous contents consumed, produced and disseminated online by
Portuguese speaking young people. This exploratory study is a starting point for further
research. This is a ﬁeld we intend to explore deeply using more child centred and
participative research techniques in order to fully understand the issues at stake and to get
the actual young people’s point-of-view and experiences.
Provisional ﬁndings trigger our concern and scientiﬁc interest in learning more about
pro-anorexic and other self-harming disruptive online contents produced, disseminated and
consumed by young people. So, with this study we aim to help to raise awareness among
parents, caregivers and teachers about problematic eating and self-harming/destructive
contents as they may seriously affect adolescent development and well-being.
1. The sentence in the title used in direct speech is an adaptation of a posted testimonial taken from the
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About the authors
Teresa Soﬁa Castro (PhD student) is a Scholarship Researcher at the University of Minho
(Portugal). She has a Master Degree in Child Studies – Information and Communication
Technology and a ﬁrst degree in Philosophy and Humanities. She has been involved in a
European Research Project on Internet Safety. Her research interests are related to the use
of internet by children and young people. Teresa Soﬁa Castro is the corresponding author
and can be contacted at: teresa.soﬁa.firstname.lastname@example.org
Antonio Jose Osorio PhD in Education. Experience on Initial and in-Service Teacher Training,
as well as Master and PhD courses in the ﬁeld of ICT. Very good research experience of
using e-learning environments, and collaborative learning environments in the internet, good
expertise in research with LOGO. Responsible for the co-ordination of several national
projects concerning the implementation of ICT and specially ‘‘Internet in Schools’’ in the
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