Arizona files lawsuit against Meta, says in-app features harm kids mental health

Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 6:44 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - “It’s if they’re taking behavior cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface,” said Arizona Attorney Kris Mayes during a press conference today.

Arizona is now one of over 40 states to file lawsuits against Meta, all claiming that Meta knowingly and continues to use tactics that lead to social media addiction.

Citing features like infinite scrolling and the like button, Attorney General Mayes joined the federal lawsuit in California’s Northern District.

“This type and this level of use is destructive to the physical health and mental health and social connections of our kids,” Mayes said.

Meta responded by saying, “We share the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online and have already introduced over 30 tools to support teens and their families.”

Meta, however, also expressed its disappointments over the lawsuits, but Mayes seems to disagree, stating they are only “prioritizing their profits over children’s health and safety.”

One Tucson family therapist, Nicole Moore, weighed in on the extent of social media’s impact on young users, saying scrolling endlessly on your phone is only a distraction from things that matter most.

“It’s a really easy way to distract you from your own life,” Moore said.

“So for teenagers, they’re really missing out on being with their friends socially, not sitting on a couch on your phone, but actually doing things together.”

Moore says showing the number of likes on Instagram or Facebook can also cause some users to worry and feel upset that their content is not being engaged as often as another users.

“When you post something,” Moore said, “you get all these likes and comments, that is the reward; wow this is going viral and people are paying attention to me, or my crush is starting to notice me.”

“That is the validation that is not only emotionally rewarding, but chemically rewarding as well in the brain.”

Facebook and Instagram have tools in place to limit kids’ access to certain content and how it may impact them, but kids have been known to find hidden paths behind those controls.

Moore says users need to set boundaries on social media viewing.

“Having a really honest conversation with your kids and being able to say these are the dangers and positives, and how do you want to work with me on creating a really healthy environment.”

Attorney General Mayes also noted she is looking into other social media companies like TikTok to address the same concerns, but no formal case has been filed.

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