All our kids know it: at Kartini Clinic there are no cell phones allowed on the unit.

But why not?

Well, treatment takes focus and it takes interaction with the therapists, doctors and other patients.  Today I walked in on a group therapist talking with the high school-aged kids about the difficulties one of them was experiencing with concentration.  The supportive comments and suggestions given from one patient to another were nothing short of amazing.  The kids are amazing, but imagine what the conversation might have been like had they all been checking their email, twitter accounts etc every five minutes.

Where we need full concentration and commitment, no cell phones.

Some of our patients think this “policy” might be because I think technology is a bad thing.  That is emphatically not the case.  Technology is what you make of it.  It is a tool, a powerful tool.  You can use it, you can abuse it.  But it cannot really abuse you unless you forget that you have the Power.  And that Power, given to us all, is the tiny “off” button.

It has become popular to insist that technology is ruining our youth. To this debated point I recently read commentary on Medscape about a book whose thesis is that technology is harming our kids in ways we (and they) are not aware of.  I quote below Dr Vaughn Bell’s response to this allegation because it is so relevant to critical thinking about many things, including eating disorders:

"In terms of social, emotional, and mental well-being, for the vast majority of people, there is no strong evidence of harm and some evidence for a slight benefit. To help young people, we should be more focused on the practical consequences ― avoiding too much sedentary activity to ensure good physical health and being a good online mentor to help avoid bullying, fraud, or distressing material. In rare cases, some people do show patterns of unhealthy use of games, Internet applications, or digital technology, but this is unlikely to be a reflection of the technology itself and more likely to be a result of underlying emotional or behavioral problems, which we know can result in unhealthy patterns of behavior in many areas of life. There is currently no evidence from neuroscience studies that typical Internet use harms the adolescent brain”, Dr Bell and his coauthors write, adding that Dr Greenfield's claims "are not based on a fair scientific appraisal of the evidence, often confuse correlation for causation, give undue weight to anecdote and poor quality studies, and are misleading to parents and the public at large."

Older treatment paradigms of eating disorders in children included parent blaming, media blaming, and viewing them as culture bound life-style choices.  Older studies and papers in support of these theories “confuse correlation for causation, give undue weight to anecdote and poor quality studies, and are misleading to parents and the public at large”.

That pretty much says it all.