LUBBOCK, Texas — On Tuesday, more than thirty states sued Meta for knowingly using addicting features that keep children on its platforms. Meta is the parent company of Instagram and Facebook.
The lawsuit is sparking conversation about how damaging the time spent on social media can be for kids and what parents can or cannot do about it. EverythingLubbock.com spoke with a Lubbock mom of three on Thursday who chose not to bring social media into her kids’ lives until they went to high school to be sure they would be able to use the platforms responsibly.
“These kids just have so much information coming at them and some of it’s great and some of it’s really not great,” Prim Naegele said.
Naegele said she can see both the good and bad sides to social media and she does what she can to help her kids use the platforms in a responsible way but does believe the platforms have the potential to be harmful and could use some more parameters.
The states involved in the lawsuit said the infinite news feed, frequent notifications and the “Like” button are among the features that are keeping kids on social media apps and addicted to them.
Research by Gallup found the average teenager spends close to five hours a day on social media. According to Texas Tech Public Relations & Strategic Communication Management Professor Lisa Low, it makes scientific sense as to why social media can suck people in.
“We are pre-dispositioned as creatures to enjoy something we found that’s new … that gives us that dopamine rush and it’s just like a drug. Before you know it, you are endlessly scrolling and trying to get that dopamine hit,” Low said.
The states who are suing want financial damages, restitution and they want Meta to stop using the addictive features. Meta responded to the lawsuit saying they are committed to providing teens with safe and positive online experiences.
However, Low said she’s seen research linking social media use and mental health issues, such as low self-esteem and depression. She said one way to help with these issues is to step away from social media and put the phone down for a little while.
“You’re going to be a happier person overall,” Low said.
Texas is not one of the states involved in the lawsuit, however, if Meta does end up having to put parameters on the addictive features, it will affect Meta users all over Texas.