For the youth, social media remains a craze! However, only a few wise individuals can see the hidden dangers that come with it. Unfortunately, there are young users, particularly on platforms like Instagram, who struggle to comprehend the detrimental effects of excessive social media use.
In July 2022, Entrepreneur reported that Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Instagram, was accused of causing significant harm to the mental health of young people. Two families have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that Instagram has aggravated the mental conditions of teenage users, especially those who are struggling with eating disorders.
In 2021, a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general initiated an inquiry into Meta after The Wall Street Journal published “The Facebook Files.” These files, obtained from a former employee, unveiled Meta’s extensive research on the connection between Instagram and body-image issues among teenagers.
According to The New York Times, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey shared that state authorities are assessing whether Meta’s actions violated the state consumer protection laws and risked public safety. Healey asserted that Facebook, now known as Meta, had neglected to secure young individuals using its platforms. Instead, the company was accountable for manipulative practices that posed genuine risks to both physical and mental well-being.
Both families who filed their respective lawsuits in San Francisco were represented by the popular Laura Marquez-Garrett associated with the Social Media Victims Law Center. The lawsuit alleged Instagram for getting young girls addicted to the platform which made them suffer from anorexia, anxiety, and depression. It also led them to attempt suicide and get hospitalized.
In this blog, we will delve into how Instagram can contribute to social comparison, subsequently having adverse effects on physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Additionally, we will shed light on navigating the legal process and filing a complaint if your children have suffered harm due to social media addiction.
Instagram and Social Comparison: A Closer Look
In July 2021, The National News reported on the growing concern about social media adversely affecting people’s lives. Instagram has long been perceived as innocuous. But over time, it has also garnered its share of allegations linked with social comparison.
In a survey by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), 1,479 young people between 14 and 24 years were asked to rate how social media platforms affected their mental health by using a number. Instagram received the worst rating, which prompted RSPH to ask Instagram to carry out usage warnings.
Furthermore, the survey suggested that young people need to get the right knowledge of social media and its correct usage. Chris Blackmore, associated with the School of Health at the University of Sheffield, shared Instagram’s social comparison is at the root of all issues.
He asserted that today people are talking about others’ self-image and how it gets mediated visually. Often social media users start to think about whether they are in their best physical shape, or have the best hair or face. And uncannily Instagram seems to be promoting such thought patterns in individuals. Chris states that young adults and teenagers, at a certain stage of life, often feel pressure to attain perfection, based on unrealistic social benchmarks on beauty and body type.
Facebook itself realized that “social comparison” on Instagram is the worst in its internal documents. They discovered proof that airbrushed pictures of celebrities and stars adversely impacted the youth. However, most social comparison usually takes place between peers, Chris further asserted.
That aside, there are unrealistic diets that urge young girls to be skinny, so that they are on par with the international body standards. All this can lead the youth to develop eating disorders and depression. It can ruin their confidence, inner peace, leads to self-doubt and doesn’t allow them to lead a balanced life.
Taking Charge of the Issue: Filing a Legal Complaint
Based on the leaked documents by Meta, their research on Instagram revealed that 66% of teenage girls witnessed negative social comparisons. It can also lead to issues like body dysmorphia, eating disorders, general anxiety disorder, and self-harm tendencies. Therefore, if you find that your teenage child is facing such issues after excessive Instagram use, you can file an Instagram lawsuit to set things right.
TorHoerman Law suggests that families of teenagers affected by excess Instagram use can get compensated for the damages, such as emotional damages, medical treatment costs, pain, and suffering, and therapy expenses. Additionally, as legal pressure mounts on Instagram, there can be other damages that might also get compensated in the future.
However, first, it is necessary to find out the content the kids have consumed and how it has negatively affected them. Once parents have the data and the required proof, they can plan a legal case with the help of an expert lawyer.
Recently, families and institutions are sharing how Instagram and other social media platforms are negatively affecting the mental well-being of the youth. In March 2023, Courier Journal reported on Jefferson County Public Schools planning to file a lawsuit against various social media companies for having unfavorable health impacts on students.
Families must stay tuned in to the behavioral changes in their kids so that they know where it stems from. If the issues get generated by the unreal body and beauty standards and social comparisons prompted by Instagram, it is essential to seek legal assistance and report the matter. Along with it, they should also educate their kids about the correct usage of social media to avoid the recurrence of such incidents.