Social Media Lawsuits and Youth Mental Health: A Wake-Up Call for Parents

If you are a parent or guardian to a teenager, do you remember when was the last time they played outside with their friends? Or when was the last time you had a meal together without having your phones in your hand?

Social Media Lawsuits and Youth Mental Health

The meta-verse of social networking sites (SNS) has surely connected us to people living far away from us. But we have distanced ourselves from those who live in the very same house.

Our whole idea of accessing and engaging with something or someone has changed over the past decade. If you are worried that these changes are bad for the younger generation, you should be aware and responsible to work on it.

This article is meant to act as a guardian’s guide towards knowing about the impact of social media, its potential risks, and how you may help your younger one.

Knowing the Precautionary Updates

It is better to know what is already happening around and about this problem, before knowing its impact, potential risks and measures to be taken. Platforms like Instagram are rapidly becoming associated with significant mental health issues, particularly among youngsters.

The particular platform is accused of contributing to low self-esteem and body image concerns, owing to its constant exhibition of unrealistic beauty standards.

Lawsuits filed in 41 states allege that firms such as Meta are aware of the risks. However, they continue to offer features that entice children and teenagers into compulsive behaviors.

Looking at the growing addiction and deteriorating mental health of adolescents, strict actions are being taken against SNS. Multiple MDLs such as Snapchat lawsuits, Instagram lawsuits, and social media mental health lawsuits are being filed.

In February 2024, New York schools and public hospitals filed a lawsuit against digital titans for causing a childhood mental health crisis. They claimed the SNS were disrupting learning and draining resources. Annually, the city spends more than $100 million on youth mental health programs and services.

The Pew Research Center conducted a study, and the results are shocking.  Not only teens are catering to heavy use of social media, but adults too are using SNS on high levels. For instance, use of Instagram is 78% for teens, 59% for young adults, and 15% for those above 65.

Shockingly, the majority of teenagers—9 out of 10 for those aged 13 to 17—use YouTube, followed by TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Impact of Long Hours of Surfing SNS

Being on your phone, laptop, or PC for long hours can lead you to develop what we can call a scrolling syndrome. This syndrome has led to addictivity, short temperament, and a thirst to access more of it.

It also develops major sleep issues among youngsters and may lead to problems such as insomnia. According to TruLaw, 45% of social media users under 18 experience sleep difficulties. Using social media just before bedtime has contributed here.

In addition to this, it may also affect the confidence of speaking publicly among youth. Having an identity behind the screens generates an idea of anonymity in their minds. This can lead to social awkwardness or difficulty in making real-life friends.

Distorted Image of Self

Many social media lawsuits claim that Instagram created a digital platform with advanced algorithms. They seduce young users, extend their online presence, and cause addiction to the platform.

The platform’s algorithms prioritize and highlight engaging material for younger viewers, which frequently depicts an idealized depiction of wealth, beauty, and success.

These algorithms could lead to body image and self-perception issues. The idea and pressure of a ‘perfect’ body, lifestyle, or work-life may contribute towards self-harm practices.

Other Risks of SNS

A review of 36 studies found a link between cyberbullying on social media and depression in children and teenagers. It stated that adolescent girls and minority kids were more likely to report encountering cyberbullying.

Looking constantly at other people’s lives has made teenagers very judgemental. They are attracted to the reel-life lifestyle more than the real-life lifestyle of people. It can also add to the fact of being embarrassed by their way of living.

Eating disorders are another concern. An analysis of 50 studies from 17 countries was published in PLOS Global Public Health. It concluded that constant internet exposure to mainly unreachable physical goals may lead to a distorted sense of self and eating problems.

What Can You Do?

As parents and guardians, it is your responsibility to guide them through these alarming problems and pull them out of this maze. Working on some points might help you deal with this addiction and lessen the tension.

Consider doing these things:

  • Let them make mistakes. Adolescence is a crucial age of trial and error. Do not be very hard on them, instead teach them to embrace and learn from those mistakes. If they don’t find comfort in your words, they will try to find it somewhere else, and where else but social media.
  • Make sure to determine the right age for your child to access social media. Do not give them phones for distraction just because they are disturbing your work. Play with them, spend time with them, and make them engage in some offline activities.
  • Avoid over-exposure of your children. Many parents of newborns have started separate accounts for them. Engaging them with cameras and gadgets at such an early age is quite harmful to their image-building.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can privacy be compromised on social networking sites?

Privacy can be compromised on social networking sites through various means, such as sharing personal information publicly, accepting friend requests from unknown individuals, falling victim to phishing scams, and the potential misuse of personal data by the platform itself or third-party applications.

What precautions should I take to avoid identity theft on social networking sites?

To avoid identity theft, it’s crucial to use strong and unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, avoid sharing sensitive personal information such as your full address or financial details on social networking sites, and be wary of phishing attempts or suspicious links that could lead to the theft of your personal information.

Can social networking sites expose me to inappropriate content?

Yes, social networking sites can expose you to inappropriate content, including explicit images, hate speech, or violent material. This can occur through shared posts, comments, or messages from other users. It’s important to report such content and use content filtering or parental control tools if necessary.

Is it possible to become addicted to social networking sites?

Yes, social media addiction is a real concern. The constant need for validation, fear of missing out (FOMO), and the addictive design elements of social networking sites can contribute to excessive use and dependency. It is important to set limits, establish a healthy balance between online and offline activities, and seek support if you find yourself struggling with social media addiction.

Taking small steps towards the mental and physical well-being of your child or the younger one can be a big help in shaping their future. Human relationships hold the greatest power to win against all odds.

So, be aware of your child’s engagement with social media and help them out because if not you, then who will? Do not forget to take legal action if they have faced any kind of harassment or mental health issues.

Social Media Lawsuits and Youth Mental Health: A Wake-Up Call for Parents
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