Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, with millions of people using it to connect with others, share content, and stay informed. However, as the use of social media has increased, so has concern over its addictive qualities and impact on mental health.
January 2, 2023: The JPML ruled last week that all pending cases involving allegations of teen addiction to social media platforms will be consolidated into a class action MDL in the Northern District of California. There are currently about 80 of these cases pending in federal courts. The lawsuits allege that social media platforms are harmfully addictive for teens causing them to harm themselves. The new class action MDL will include social media addiction cases against all the various defendants, even though 70% of the cases are against Meta.
Social media companies have become increasingly aware of the significance of targeting teenagers and young people. Over 90 percent of all teens in the United States use social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, to stay connected with their peers. Studies indicate that U.S. teens spend an average of about three hours daily consumed by online activity on such platforms. In particular, Instagram is one popular platform for young people - it recently reported having over 57 million users below the age of 18 globally.
It’s no secret that social networks such as Meta Platforms (the parent company of both Facebook and Instagram) have designed their products to maximize screen time usage with users, including those in the teen demographic. To achieve this, these companies employ sophisticated algorithms based on human psychology to appease teenage users to keep them coming back for more content. This, along with minute details such as fonts and colors used, make the user experience attractive and desirable for teenagers to return incessantly.
Social media addiction in teens is a phenomenon where young people become overly dependent on social media platforms, negatively impacting their:
It is often characterized by the following:
The constant need for validation and fear of missing out (FOMO) are common triggers for social media addiction in teens, leading to a range of negative consequences, including:
Recently, a court case has come to light in which parents and physicians claim that social media companies like Facebook (Meta) deliberately target young users with their content to fuel addiction. Previous allegations against the company centered around its 2016 plan to attract teenage users with more personal and image-focused strategies, particularly on Instagram. This strategy appears to have been thriving given that almost half of all American Instagram users are below 22, logging on daily to view content that this vulnerable demographic may be too young to mitigate the effects properly.
The psychological impacts of specific aspects of media platforms, such as the emphasis on physical appearance on Instagram, have had profound damaging effects on teens across the globe.
Health professionals and organizations highlighted several studies conducted by Facebook (Meta), that explores these issues concerning teen's mental health and social media addiction - but the tech behemoth took no further action. These findings call for urgent measures from lawmakers and a reassessment from within Big Tech firms around how they can better protect their youngest users from potentially dangerous subject matter while still engaging them with relevant content.
Anyone who has suffered harm or damage due to social media addiction can file a social media addiction lawsuit. This includes individuals and parents of minors. Contact Class Action 101 for a FREE consultation to learn if you have a case.