Social Media Addiction Attorneys
Important Resources & Legal Assistance
Social media addiction is a worsening concern around the globe. It has become so prominent in certain demographics, namely teenagers and young adults, that it has garnered attention from journalists, scientific researchers, healthcare specialists, and law firms alike. Based on one study from researchers at California State University Fullerton, approximately 10% of people in the United States have a social media addiction, ranging from mild to severe.
Kershaw Talley Barlow is currently investigating cases in which people have been harmed due to social media addiction, such as a teenager who experienced an eating disorder or suicidal thoughts due to the toxic environments created on most social media platforms. Lawsuits are being brought against social media giants that have created these platforms but have done nothing to remedy the issue. In fact, the social media giants have done the opposite. Their platforms and algorithms are specifically designed to encourage addiction. Very little has been done by the FTC or other governmental entities to regulate or address social media’s impact on the mental health of young teenage girls or children. One mother in Connecticut has filed a lawsuit against Meta (the new parent company of Facebook and Instagram) and Snap (the makers of Snapchat) after her 11-year-old daughter became addicted to social media and soon thereafter took her own life*.
Parents who have lost a child and others who have suffered harm due to social media addiction should use this time to explore their legal rights. If enough people come forward with claims and lawsuits, then it could be the start of a significant change that has the potential to hold social media companies accountable and to improve security and addiction prevention resources for social media users of all ages.
(* If you are struggling with dark or suicidal thoughts, please know that you are never alone. There are alwayspeople who want to help you and remind you that the world is better with you in it. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 whenever you need someone to talk to about what is going on. Hotline representatives can connect you with local psychiatric and medical resources, too.)
What is Social Media Addiction?
Social media addiction has not been officially defined by psychological research organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA). As such, it cannot yet be officially diagnosed. Yet social media addiction is still real and causes harm to people who find it difficult to get through the day without consuming social media content.
People who are addicted to social media might exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- Accessing a social media app 10 or more times a day.
- Using social media for 4 or more hours a day.
- Constant urge to use social media.
- Inability to sleep without first browsing social media for hours.
- Agitation when interacting with people in person.
- Unsafe use of social media while driving.
Social media addiction can be triggered by any social media app, such as:
What is the Risk of Social Media Addiction?
Using social media too much is not as benign a problem as it might seem. Constant exposure to certain unsafe and unregulated content can be a dangerous negative influence on children and young adult’s minds and emotions, especially when considering impressionable teenagers. To make matters worse, research has shown that many social media app algorithms are specifically designed to repeatedly show users the same type of content, even if they do not actively seek it out. For example, someone who is exposed to Instagram posts that glorify suicidal behaviors is far more likely to see other posts that do the same in the future, just by starting up the app.
Some of the most dangerous risks of social media addiction include:
- Suicide and self-harm: For as long as social media platforms have existed, cruel individuals have been using them as a place to cyberbully and harass the emotionally vulnerable. Like in-person, physical bullying, cyberbullying can quickly or gradually erode the victim’s self-esteem, leading to pervasive thoughts of suicide and self-harm.
- Depression and anxiety: Constant exposure to negative content, especially content that bullies or insults others, not necessarily even the social media user, can be the catalyst that causes someone to develop depression or anxiety. The situation only gets worse because social media platforms keep the exposure to such content nearly constant.
- Eating and bodily disorders: Teenagers are disproportionately at risk of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia and body dysmorphia, which is characterized by an unrealistic self-perception. Social media platforms can fuel these disorders by idolizing people with unhealthy relationships with food, dieting, and exercise, such as influencers who starve themselves to look a certain way because they think it is necessary to “get clicks.”
- Sexual exploitation: Sexual predators use social media platforms to gain access to young children, teenagers, and others who are vulnerable to their manipulative tactics and exploitation. A child who is addicted to social media will be at a worse risk of encountering a sexual predator who has been enabled by the app to stalk and harass them, such as through constant direct messages or DMs.
(Please review the list of Health & Safety Resources provided at the end of this page if you are struggling with mental and physical health concerns related to social media addiction. You will find links to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, National Eating Disorders Association helpline, and others. Please be kind to yourself.)
How Can Social Media Addiction Be Stopped?
Social media use can be addictive because the brain perceives it as any other “treat.” When viewing social media content that the user likes, there will be a rush of dopamine, which then triggers serotonin generation. It is a self-contained system of positive feedback. The user feels rewarded for looking at or using a social media app and, therefore, wants to use it again and again.
Understanding the addictive process of social media use, down to the neurotransmitters it affects, can make it easier to challenge and overcome the addiction. There are methods that you or your child can utilize to fight back and curb social media addiction to reduce the risks and harm that it causes.
Three ways to challenge social media addiction include:
- Parents should speak with their children about safe and responsible social media use. Limiting the amount of social media use is not necessarily key, but rather it is important to use it responsibly and in a way that does not expose the child to unsafe people, posts, or groups.
- Social media apps and smartphones each have parental control features that can limit how often an app is used, what posts can be viewed, notify the parent when the app is being used, and so on. Not all apps have such parental controls, though, so such apps might need to be removed altogether.
- Intruding in a child’s or teen’s social media accounts can make the situation worse. Parents should ask their children if they can follow them on their different accounts or be “friends” on different apps. As a follower or friend, a parent can more easily see what types of content their child might be viewing.
Why are Social Media Platforms Liable?
Social media companies like Meta and Snap are being targeted by social media addiction lawsuits for a variety of reasons. If you think that your family was harmed due to social media addiction, then we can investigate your case to find the underlying reason why a social media company or platform might be liable for your related damages.
Reasons why a social media platform could be liable for addiction to its app are:
- Intentionally exposing users to hurtful content: A social media company might be liable for harm caused by social media addiction if that company intentionally put harmful content in front of certain users. As mentioned, social media apps use carefully crafted and constantly updating algorithms to put certain content in front of certain users. If a young user is exposed to unsafe content like a post that promotes self-harm, then that same user will be more likely to see more self-harm posts in the future, even if they never searched for it in the first place.
- Insufficient user protections: Bullying and harassment on social media platforms usually occur in direct messages or comment sections under posts. People who are addicted to social media can be repeatedly exposed to such harmful strangers and feel like they have few options to get away from them. Even blocking a cyberbully can be insufficient if that person opens another account minutes later and comes back to cause more harm. Social media platforms like Facebook might be liable for psychological harm to its users if it is determined that the company did not do enough to prevent harassment and penalize repeat offenders.
- Inappropriate content access: Most social media apps ask some basic identifying questions of users upon logging in and creating an account for the first time, including their age group. Despite knowing the age of a user, apps still allow young children and teenagers to view harmful content like posts that show people with telltale signs of anorexia but act like it is a “healthy lifestyle” post. Liability could be placed on a social media company if it knowingly allowed young users to view content that reasonably was not age-appropriate and that fed their addiction and consequent health concerns.
Find Out If You Can Sue for Social Media Addiction
Our team of social media addiction lawyers from Kershaw Talley Barlow are researching potential lawsuits against platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, as well as their parent companies. If your child has suffered from mental health disorders, eating disorders, suicidal behavior, or committed suicide, then please accept our heartfelt condolences. But please also know that you might be able to pursue legal action against the social media company that might have directly fueled your child’s unsafe addiction and actions. A successful case might be able to bring you and your family a sense of justice and closure, so please explore your options today.
Schedule a no-cost consultation with our firm. We are here to support you.
Health & Safety Resources
- National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website
- Resources for Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder (Eating Disorder Hope®)
- National Eating Disorders Association helpline
- Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents & Educators (National Association of School Psychologists)
- The Growing Case for Social Media Addiction (CSU Fullerton, Jeanne Ricci)
- Connecticut mother sues Meta and Snap, alleging they contributed to suicide of 11-year-old daughter who had ‘extreme addiction’ to social media (Business Insider)
- Eating Disorders and Social Media Prove Difficult to Untangle (The New York Times)
- Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show (The Wall Street Journal)
- Teens are dying by suicide at an alarming rate. Here are 5 ways to help save their lives. (Mashable, Rebecca Ruiz)
- Social Media Addiction (Addiction Center)
- What is Social Media Addiction? (Healthline)
- Eating Disorders (innerbody)
I am thankful to Kershaw Talley Barlow, and I would highly recommend them to my friends and family.
“I am thankful to Kershaw Talley Barlow, and I would highly recommend them to my friends and family. Bill Kershaw and his staff are very knowledgeable and cared about my well-being.”
Very thorough and knowledgeable. Explained everything to me in great detail. I feel that they actually cared about me.
“Great firm. Was always able to reach them or receive prompt return call. Very thorough and knowledgeable. Explained everything to me in great detail. I feel that they actually cared about me.”
Recommend Him and His Firm Highly
“I’ve been very pleased with Stuart Talley's service with an ongoing lawsuit against a major corporation and recommend him and his firm highly.”