Reports indicate that 90% of teens ages 13 to 17 are active on social media and spend upwards of nine hours on the internet a day. Although modern technology has many benefits to offer our society, research indicates that excessive social media use negatively affects the mental health of teenagers and young adults. Social media sites are designed to keep people using the platform for as long as possible by using complex algorithms to drive addictive behavior. This has led to increasing cases of anxiety, depression, and suicide in teens and young adults. Due to this, impacted individuals and their families have submitted claims against social media corporations like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, asserting the platforms deliberately target vulnerable teenagers. Here’s what you need to know about mental health-related social media lawsuits.
Impacts of Social Media and Mental Health
Social media companies like Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram) intentionally design their platforms to toy with human psychology. Getting reactions and comments on social media posts causes the brain to release dopamine, a naturally occurring, delight-inducing chemical in the brain. Once the dopamine is released, it quickly subsides, leaving users wanting more. Facebook whistleblowers and internal studies done by social media platforms conclude that social media usage can produce addictive behavior. The aftereffects of this continuous cycle have caused teens to develop life-altering health and social problems, including:
- Eating disorders
- Being the victims of cyberbullying
- Body dysmorphia
Social media lawsuits argue that platform designers knew being a part of these online communities could cause addictive tendencies and failed to warn users about the potential mental health effects of using the platform. Some examples of addictive behaviors someone may exhibit include:
- Constantly thinking about social media or how to use it.
- An increasing urge to use social media.
- Attempting to limit social media use unsuccessfully.
- Irritability or anxiousness when not on social media.
- Allowing social media to interfere with school, work, or close relationships negatively.
- Difficulty maintaining friendships or making new friends
Class Action Lawsuit for Social Media Addiction
Over the past several years, there has been a noticeable increase in product liability lawsuits filed by teens, young adults, and their parents. These lawsuits seek to hold social media companies responsible for injuries resulting from addiction to their platforms. Many of these lawsuits are directed at Meta for addiction to Facebook and Instagram. These product liability suits claim that the social media companies failed to adequately test their products and didn’t warn users about the potential dangers of using social media. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has consolidated these social media lawsuits into a class action suit in the Northern District of California. Currently, there are about 80 cases pending trial.
Eligibility to File
Teens and families of impacted loved ones who suffered physical injuries due to social media addiction before turning 25 may be eligible to receive compensation from social media companies like Meta. Physical injuries from social media addiction could include suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.
First, you’ll need to prove that there was a physical addiction to the platform. However, current studies and statistics on this topic may not be admissible as evidence in court. Second, you’ll need to prove that this addiction was the most likely cause of the injury or death. This may be challenging to prove, as social media addiction is often one of several factors contributing to mental health problems.
Are Social Media Companies Protected from Lawsuits?
No. Social media companies can be sued. Although courts ruled these platforms don’t qualify for judgment under product liability statutes, the court found they can be sued for negligence. Defendants also cannot be protected by federal immunity statutes or the First Amendment.
Filing a Social Media Lawsuit Over Mental Health Issues
If you or a loved one suffered physical harm due to social media addiction, let our expert team at the Michael Brady Lynch Law Firm help. We’ll help you determine whether you qualify and help you file a claim in the class action social media lawsuit against platforms like Meta. Contact our office at 888-585-5970 to discuss your claim.