In a recent Daily J podcast episode, WWJ's Brian Fisher dives into the recently filed federal lawsuit against Meta, in which 33 states allege mental health harm against children.
LISTEN NOW: Michigan is one of 33 states suing Meta — Does social media really hurt children's mental health?
Officially filed by California last week, the lawsuit implicates Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta in the contribution to the current mental health crisis found in minors. They claim that the media giant induces minors into social media obsessions by promoting allegedly addictive features, like short videos with automatic scroll, endless scroll, and frequent notifications.
“In this case, I think the states are worried that kids are being impressioned,” WWJ legal analyst Charlie Langton told the podcast. “They're being solicited. They're being used, for some company to make money. Now, the intricacies of that, how they're going to go about proving that, how the states are going to prove the damages, how bad that is? I think that's going to be left to prove how badly these kids are hurt.”
Each state has already backed the lawsuit with research, claiming that it can directly correlate depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other life disruptions with use of Meta’s platforms. For podcast guest speaker and clinical child psychologist Dr. Eric Herman, this comes as no shock. He believes that, not only does the addictive nature of social media “damage a child's attention span” but that its “same addictive nature can negatively impact a child's social skills and self-esteem as well.”
Dr. Herman also claims that some children are so self-aware that they even feel bad for having a social media addiction. “Like any other addiction, I see kids and they just feel bad about it. And they'll come in and they'll say to me that they're spending way too much time on their phone. And they can't stop. So it is an addiction that just puts your life out of balance.”
So what can we expect from such a nationwide lawsuit? Charlie Langton hypothesizes that, “Probably what's going to happen here is that Congress ultimately would have to either strengthen the current laws or put some more regulations in place.” Thus, they may take on a stance similar to Florida’s separate federal lawsuit, which alleges that Meta misled or uninformed users of media health risks. Langton continued, “I wouldn't be surprised if we're going to see some congressional action, a little more oversight to some of these companies that have this massive influence on our children. But, even if better laws and regulations are implemented for social media, it will likely remain pretty impactful in everyone's lives.”
To hear more about the lawsuit and its implications, check out the Daily J podcast above, and find more info during our conversation on children's mental health with experts from AFSP here.
Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988. Find a full list of additional resources here.