Injuries caused by negligent acts can take many forms. The advent and continuing growth of social media platforms have both helped and armed people of all ages. However, children who are most susceptible to apps such as TikTok are going beyond enthusiasts and into addicts.
A recent bipartisan bill going through the California Assembly would allow parents to hold social media companies who do not refrain from addicting kids by filing civil suits for damages. The push for accountability is not the first political effort, nor will it likely be the last.
Entertainment or exploitation?
Supporters cite intentional design features in apps that will compel children to use them more. While not physically damaging, the social costs could result in serious, if not permanent, damage. Children and parents feel the brunt, but not the companies that profit from their creations.
As with any product marketing to children, safety is paramount. Toys, bicycles, and other tangible products marketed to kids must meet high levels of protection. California lawmakers believe the same standards should apply to social media apps where kids compose a large customer base.
Supporters suggest that damages could encompass $1,000 per child in class action suits or $25,000 per child in civil penalties.
The bill is part of the growing momentum to regulate social media companies experiencing backlash for controlling narratives by selective monitoring, banning users, and ways that they collect user data.
The Washington Post recently reported that case documents about Meta and Snap are responsible for a growing mental health crisis that focuses on children and teenagers nationwide. The paper claims that one of the tragic outcomes resulted in the wrongful death of an 11-year-old girl whose exposure to social media allegedly led to her wrongful death.
The potentially deadly psychological damage will only continue without accountability from powerful and influential online entities. The stakes are far too high to ignore the burgeoning problem.