Perils of social media: Focus on kids’ mental health as US states sue Meta - The Tribune India

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Perils of social media

Focus on kids’ mental health as US states sue Meta

Perils of social media

Photo for representation. iStock file photo



IT’s being labelled as the social media’s tobacco moment, a combined effort to hold Big Tech accountable. Dozens of states in the United States are suing Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, for allegedly harming young people’s mental health. Meta has denied the charge of profiting through manipulative features that lure children and teenagers into addictive and compulsive social media use. Parents, educators, caregivers and policymakers worldwide have been sounding the alarm for years on its negative impact on mental and physical health. Research has associated spending long periods of time on social media with depression, anxiety, insomnia and eating disorders. 

Meta says it has introduced a number of tools to provide a safer environment for teenagers and families. The lawsuits cite the platform’s addictive and rewarding qualities for keeping the youth online with features that diminish their sense of self-worth and well-being. Meta, TikTok and YouTube already face hundreds of lawsuits in the US over the impact on mental health and misleading the public about the platforms’ safety. The current action is the biggest to date. The outcome of these cases could have global ramifications. There are renewed calls for new online protective measures such as age-appropriate health and safety standards for apps. 

Experts stress that banning social media may not be the key to online safety. Instead, the emphasis should be on digital literacy and privacy. Children will resist, they admit, and so parents must approach social media use in a non-judgmental way. Have conversations about limiting screen time before bed. Encourage discussions on FOMO (fear of missing out), on what kind of content they are coming across, how they feel about it and what makes them feel energised or depleted. Any engagement would be worth it. 

#Facebook #Instagram #Meta #Social Media #United States of America USA


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