Australian teenagers as young as 14 are taking extreme measures including vomiting or taking laxatives to control their weight.
A new government study found, while a very small minority of mid-adolescents met the criteria for anorexia or bulimia, significant numbers had taken action to try and control their weight.
Social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat were considered the most persuasive on young minds.
Cyber safety expert Ross Bark said the role of social media influencers, who post their desirable, but often unrealistic lives online, are a new phenomenon impacting young consumers.
“They’re effectively being driven to be like these influencers when in fact it’s impossible for them to do so. So we’re seeing a dramatic upturn in kids that a lot of anxiety and mental health issues because of that,” Mr Bark said.
FACEBOOK is no longer considered cool by Australian teens with its popularity among youngsters plummeting 70 per cent in two years.
A new survey by Best Enemies Education of 800 Australians aged 13-18 has revealed just 11.57 per cent say the Mark Zuckerberg site is their most used app — a dramatic decline from two years ago when it was ranked number one.
Meanwhile, Instagram and Snapchat’s popularity is soaring, with more than half of teens saying Instagram is their most used app and about one in four saying they use Snapchat the most.
Best Enemies director Ross Bark, who runs cyber-safety courses in NSW schools, conducted the research and said teens no longer wanted to be on Facebook because it had been taken over by their parents.
“They want to use apps where they’re not going to be monitored,” Mr Bark said.
“Even on Instagram a lot of teens have two accounts; one which they get their family members to follow and another where they’ll be … posting risqué content.”
INSTAGRAM is guilt-tripping parents into letting children younger than 13 have their own accounts by claiming they will be bullied if they are not on the app.
The social media giant also argues that having a public account is “part of the fun”.
It has come under fire from cyber safety experts over its “parents’ guide to Instagram” which claims that kids who don’t have Instagram can “risk social marginalisation”.
Ross Bark and brother Darren from Best Enemies.
Best Enemies director Ross Bark, who runs cyber-safety courses in schools, said it was “ridiculous” to suggest children were going to experience “social marginalisation” purely for not being on the app.
He said that anyone under 18 on the app should have a private account and children under 13 “should definitely not” be on Instagram.
“Social marginalisation sounds like a term that has come out of a marketing manager’s mouth … it sounds like a young person will be on the fringes of society if they are not on Instagram which is a silly suggestion,” Mr Bark said.
KIDS who play video games are being encouraged to take caffeine-loaded “supplements” to boost their reaction times and help them stay up all night playing.
Best Enemies director Ross Bark, who runs cyber-safety courses in NSW schools, said “gaming supplements” were a growing problem parents needed to be aware of.
“Schools are having issues with students crashing in class after spending all night playing games,” Mr Bark said.
“It can have a real impact on their school work, their relationships and mental health. I think one of the issues is with teenager boys in particularly. They don’t see taking large amount of caffeine as a serious thing or something that carries health risks.”
POPULAR video games such as Fortnite and Minecraft are being used to harvest children’s personal data by web fiends who flog it to anyone willing to stump up the cash.
Cyber-safety expert Ross Bark said crooks could use a child’s username and password for a gaming site like Fortnite to extract more information including phone numbers, credit card details, dates of birth and home addresses.
“Websites like Fortnite ask users to hand over a lot of personal information, which is very valuable to criminals,” Mr Bark said. “The account details would usually be purchased in bulk by the hundreds.”
CYBER-BULLIES would be banned from social media and slapped with an online version of an apprehended violence order as part of a radical plan to stop trolls.
Anti-bullying charities are using a powerful parliamentary inquiry to call for a criminalisation of trolling — including giving child cyber-bullies a social media order (SMO) that would ban them from contacting their victims and using sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
It comes after 14-year-old Amy “Dolly” Everett took her own life on January 3 after being targeted by bullies online.
Cyber-safety expert Ross Bark, who runs education courses across NSW through his company Best Enemies, agreed the creation of an “SMO” would be helpful.
“It would be useful to be able to ban offenders from Facebook, Instagram and social media but it would need to be coupled with education so they can actually learn the very real effect they are having on their victims,” Mr Bark said.
The summer holidays are peak internet season for families – but parents have been warned about a trend of violent, graphic cartoons specifically designed to target children.
The cartoons feature beloved children’s characters such as Peppa Pig, Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen, but feature gruesome acts including murder, cannibalism and pornography.
“Your child could be viewing the Peppa Pig video which could be a proper video, and in one second they could be watching something completely inappropriate, which they think is the same thing,” Cyber Expert Ross Bark told A Current Affair.