Adolescents Harmed By Social Media Platforms
There is currently litigation against Meta—formerly known as Facebook, along with TikTok, YouTube, Snap, and several other social media platforms, alleging that they are harmful to adolescents, who engage in self-destructive actions, including addiction, after engaging with the platforms.
Currently, over 80 lawsuits have been filed involving social media companies, claiming that after overuse of various platforms, a number of adolescents have engaged in self-harm, including death by suicide. Furthermore, the companies are well aware of the harm caused by their products.
Well Documented Harm
According to the Mayo Institute, 97 percent of teens aged 13-17 have at least one social media account, and nearly half are online nearly always. This is a space where they can create new identities, connect with others, express themselves, and see what’s happening in their communities and across the globe. But the consequences of engagement can be horrendous, from sleep disruptions to unrealistic views of the world, peer pressure, bullying, and rumors. One study found that spending three or more hours daily on these platforms could lead to problems with mental health and well-being, including depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and problems with body image. Another study showed that those who view these platforms regularly believe everyone else has a happier life than they do, leading to self-destructive behavior.
With the instant gratification provided by technology these days, many teens have lost the ability to wait patiently for answers. Being ignored on a social media platform for minutes—let alone hours or days—can be devastating. On the other hand, people can impulsively respond to anything on these platforms, oftentimes saying things they would never say in person. The barriers between the users—the body language, facial expressions and so forth—that inform progress through typical face-to-face conversations are missing, allowing people to plunge into comments that they might be warned off of otherwise. Still another problem is that content is often manipulated, distorting what users see. The problems are sometimes invisible emotionally—yet one study showed that 6 percent of teens with suicidal ideologies traced those feelings back to a social media platform.
Companies Know the Problems
Companies are not naïve when it comes to the problems. Instagram, for instance, uses algorithms that are geared to direct teens toward content that is toxic, knowing that negative emotions have more staying power than positive ones. And the longer someone stays on the platform, the greater the profits for the company.
Communications Decency Act
In defense, the companies in question point to the Communications Decency Act Section 230. Internet providers are shielded from liability after they publish content from others according to this rule, leading social media platforms to claim immunity from liability claims.
Fighting Big Companies
Has your teen suffered needlessly due to interactions with social media? Perhaps a personal injury lawsuit is in the cards. The experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes can help. Schedule a confidential conversation in our office today.