Social media has helped people communicate more and instantly. The use of social media among children has increased tremendously. But without doubt, it has great addictive potential and one such case as mentioned is reflecting just the tip of the iceberg. The side effects can be manifold, like psychiatric illness, loss of education, disconnection from the reality and loss of time are only a few, which are evident.
Connecticut mother sues Meta and Snap, alleging they contributed to suicide of 11-year-old daughter who had ‘extreme addiction’ to social media
- A woman in Connecticut is suing Meta and Snap, alleging their platforms played a role in her 11-year-old’s suicide.
- Tammy Rodriguez claims her daughter killed herself in July after “struggling with the harmful effects of social media.”
A Connecticut mother is suing Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, and Snap, alleging their “dangerous and defective social media products” played a role in her 11-year-old daughter’s suicide.
The complaint, filed by Tammy Rodriguez in San Francisco federal court earlier this week, claims Selena Rodriguez suffered from depression, sleep deprivation, eating disorders, and self-harm tied to her use of Instagram and Snapchat.
According to the filing, Selena began using social media roughly two years before her death by suicide in July 2021, during which time she developed “an extreme addiction to Instagram and Snapchat.” The filing also claims the 11-year-old missed school multiple times because of her social media use and that she was asked to send sexually explicit content by male users on both platforms.
Rodriguez wrote in the filing that she attempted to get her daughter mental health treatment several times, with one outpatient therapist saying she had “never seen a patient as addicted to social media as Selena.” At one point, Selena was hospitalized for emergency psychiatric care, according to the complaint.
In a statement, Snap said it couldn’t comment on the specifics of an active case but told Insider “nothing is more important to us than the wellbeing of our community.”
“We are devastated to hear of Selena’s passing and our hearts go out to her family,” a Snap spokesperson told Insider. “Snapchat helps people communicate with their real friends, without some of the public pressure and social comparison features of traditional social media platforms, and intentionally makes it hard for strangers to contact young people.”
The spokesperson continued: “We work closely with many mental health organizations to provide in-app tools and resources for Snapchatters as part of our ongoing work to keep our community safe.”
Meta and lawyers for Rodriguez did not respond to requests for comment.
Internal Facebook documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal last year revealed the company is aware Instagram can be harmful to the mental health of teenagers, with one document stating that “32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.”
Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of public policy, wrote in a September blog post that the Journal’s story “focuses on a limited set of findings and casts them in a negative light.”
In other documents retrieved by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company found 13.5% of teen girls said Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse, while 17% of teen girls said Instagram exacerbates eating disorders.
After Haugen gave an interview with “60 Minutes” about the findings, Facebook previously issued this response: “It is not accurate that leaked internal research demonstrates Instagram is ‘toxic’ for teen girls. The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. This research, like external research on these issues, found teens report having both positive and negative experiences with social media.”
Earlier this month, Angela Underwood Jacobs, the sister of a federal officer killed last year, sued Meta, alleging the company “knowingly promoting extremist content” that contributed to her brother’s death.