DENVER (KDVR) — Experts are weighing in after attorneys general across the nation, including Colorado, filed a lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company, Meta, alleging their social media platforms are addictive and harmful to kids.
It’s part of an effort to hold social media companies accountable for the addictiveness of their apps.
Randi Smith, a professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at MSU Denver, said there have been warnings for several years about the dangers of social media, pointing to the latest advisory issued by the U.S. Surgeon General.
“I think that the devices and software are very intentionally designed to keep all of us hooked. The use of algorithms, the tracking of our behavior, the infinite scroll,” Smith said. “All these things prey on our own cognitive shortcomings and can pull us in.”
Meta released a statement in response to the allegations:
“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. We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.”
The lawsuit claims the tech giant’s strategy violates the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and argues the platform features have fueled a youth mental health crisis.
A Meta spokesperson addressed these claims, assuring the company prohibits users under the age of 13 on Instagram and does not knowingly collect information from anyone under 13.
They add the company prompts teens to take time away from these apps with their ‘take a break’ feature.
But to some degree, Smith said these companies need to be held accountable.
“I also think parents and caregivers have a responsibility to help guide young people,” Smith said. “I think we all have an opportunity to talk more about the influences of social media and to help young people learn about media literacy that what they’re reading, seeing and consuming isn’t the entire picture.”