News 9 - October 25, 2023 5:55 am

FILE - Meta's logo can be seen on a sign at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez, File)

The state of Oklahoma is filing a lawsuit against Meta, the company known for social media sites Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced the lawsuit on Tuesday saying that Meta violated laws by designing its platforms to trap children in excessive and harmful enviroments that cause serious mental health issues. Meta also deceived parents and young users about the safety of using Instagram and Facebook.

“Meta has fueled the youth mental health crisis we are facing by taking advantage of vulnerable children and teens with unfair and deceptive practices,” Drummond said. “The company has enriched itself by pushing young social media users onto its platforms and then exploiting the vulnerabilities of children and teens to turn a profit.”

Drummond is among nine other AGs who are filing state lawsuits against Meta. Meanwhile, 33 other states have filed a federal lawsuit against the company following a years-long multistate investigation.

Related Stories: States Sue Meta Claiming Its Social Platforms Are Addictive, Harming Children’s Mental Health

The lawsuit filed in federal court in California also claims that Meta routinely collects data on children under 13 without their parent’s consent, in violation of federal law. The broad-ranging suit is the result of an investigation led by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. In 2021, first by The Wall Street Journal published a report, based on Meta’s own research that found that the company knew about the harms Instagram can cause teenagers — especially teen girls — when it comes to mental health and body image issues.

One internal study cited 13.5% of teen girls saying Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse and 17% of teen girls saying it makes eating disorders worse.

What is digital addiction?

Digital addiction, according to the National Library of Medicine, is an uncontrolled relationship with technology resulting in changes in mood and behavior.

A diagnosis of a digital addiction must meet five requirements, according to the National Library of Medicine.

  1. A preoccupation with the internet. Meaning they think about previous online activity or anticipate the next time they will be online.
  2. A need to be on the internet in increasing intervals in order to be satisfied.
  3. Previous unsuccessful attempts to control or stop internet use.
  4. Experiences withdrawal (restless, moody, depressed, irritable) when attempting to cut back on internet use.
  5. Has prioritized being online over:
  6. Significant relationships, jobs, education
  7. Lied to family, therapists or others to conceal internet usage
  8. Reality, or deal with feelings of anxiety or depression

What can I do?

A complete removal of internet usage is not recommended, according to the National Library of Medicine. Instead, they say a controlled and balanced approach is the goal.

Recommended treatment from the Library of Medicine:

  1. Disrupt internet usage by creating a new schedule.
  2. Use real-time events or activities to prompt the user to log off.
  3. Set goals on screen use and give rewards when goals are met.
  4. Completely remove problem applications or games.
  5. Develop a personal inventory of what the user used to engage in, but now doesn’t because of internet usage.
  6. Enter a support group or therapy.

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