Ron Austin Law represents individuals and school systems in lawsuits against social media giants like Meta (Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube for their products’ damaging effects on youth.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of adolescents, teens, and young adults who became addicted to social media and suffered detrimental mental health effects, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, ADD/ADHD, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. Numerous school districts across the country have also filed suit to hold these companies responsible and to help school districts access the resources they need to support affected youth.
These lawsuits were grouped together into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Ron A. Austin, Founder and Principal Attorney at Ron Austin Law, was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee Membership for the Social Media Adolescent Addiction/Personal Injury Products Liability Litigation MDL in November of 2022. Ron is helping families and schools that were harmed by the actions of social media companies and wants to help you, too.
Social media platforms are putting the mental health of teens and children at risk. Children develop significant psychological or mental disorders after becoming addicted to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. Even worse, children are attempting to commit suicide or dying due to the harmful effects of social media.
Social media platforms cause addiction in teens to keep them checking their accounts. The platforms provide rewarding experiences that generate dopamine — a “feel good rush” — in the brain. To get this rush of immediate gratification, teens start checking social media accounts more and more often. Developing brains are impressionable. In teenagers, their reward system tends to become even more activated, but their self-control doesn’t develop fully until around age 21.
The biology of children or teens may make them particularly vulnerable to social media. Social media creates an environment where teens are comparing themselves to others. This can be harmful to mental well-being and cause dissatisfaction with life. It puts young people at risk of developing body image issues. Increased self-consciousness may also lead to social anxiety disorder. Another concern is cyberbullying which can lead to suicide.
According to the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) investigated Facebook. WSJ found Facebook knew that “mental health risks” were “linked to the use of its Instagram app but kept those findings secret.” Also, it seems that “Instagram worsened body image issues for one in three teenage girls, and all teenage users of the app linked it to experiences of anxiety and depression.”
Over the past decade, America’s youth has engaged with social media products at an exponential rate. According to the suit, this increase in usage is a direct and calculated effort by social media companies. These companies do not charge users for their products but receive money from advertisers who pay a premium to target specific categories of users. In doing so, the companies generate revenue based on the total time users spend on the application, which directly correlates with the number of advertisements shown to each user.
Government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Surgeon General, have sounded the alarm linking the use of social media apps to a mental health crisis among youth. “The companies fail to protect young, vulnerable, at-risk users from social media addiction,” according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
Impact on Schools
Social media has invaded school districts across the nation and placed severe burdens on school administrators as they work to find ways to educate students on the dangers of social media addiction and keep it from disrupting the learning environment. Social media addiction and the resulting mental health crisis have forced schools to:
- Hire additional mental health professionals
- Developing lesson plans on social media harms
- Provide more training for educators, staff, and the community
- Address property damage caused by mentally anguished students
- Increase disciplinary measures
- Address bullying, harassment, and threats
- Confiscate electronic devices
- Notify parents and guardians of students’ behavioral issues and attendance
- Investigate and respond to threats made over social media
- Update student handbooks and school policies.
Many schools have diverted educational resources to crack down on the mental health crisis caused by social media addiction. School districts already have limited funds and should not have to allocate budget money for educational campaigns, prevention, and treatment of social media harms.
Let Ron Austin Law Help
Social media companies can be held responsible for past and future expenses for school districts dealing with the effects of their students’ social media addictions. The lawsuits against social media companies request damages to provide relief from the districts’ financial losses as a result of arranging outreach and education programs regarding social media harms and hiring additional mental health professionals. The lawsuits also seek an abatement remedy to combat our youth’s mental health crisis due to social media addiction.
School districts do not have to pay anything upfront. Ron Austin Law will front the expenses in the litigation. The school district would only be required to pay expenses if we obtain a recovery on the school district’s behalf. If the action is not successful, no legal fees are owed.
Many districts nationwide struggle to protect their students from the mental and physical injuries caused by social media addiction. Social media companies must be held accountable for creating this widespread mental health crisis among our youth.