Teen Social Media Harm Lawsuits

Studies have shown social media addiction is on the rise among teens, increasing their anxiety, depression, issues with body image and self-esteem, and even leading to suicide. The harm caused by social media addiction has led to families filing lawsuits against companies such as Meta and Snapchat for the harm they have caused.


Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Matthew Bergman

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Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by

Read our editorial guidelines here   

Why Are Parents Filing Social Media Harm Lawsuits?

As more evidence arises about the harmful effects of social media, families have begun to hold these corporations responsible. Parents notice that social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram allow children under their minimum age requirements to sign up.

Once online, children and teenagers encounter many problematic and addictive content. They become sleep-deprived, neglect school in favor of social media use, and experience severe mental health distress.

Some families even end up losing their children to suicide. The Social Media Victims Law Center has filed several social media harm lawsuits on behalf of these families.

How Is Social Media Addiction Leading to Teenage Harm?

Social media platforms are designed to keep teens on the platform for as long as possible. Feeling that they can’t stop using social media, teens begin to become exposed to dangerous content, which has proven to negatively impact their mental health, leading to a wide range of issues.


Depression is rising among adolescents in the United States, and social media may be one reason. Social media platforms contribute to depression by encouraging bullying and unfavorable social comparison. The more idealized social media images a child sees, the more vulnerable they are to negative emotions and a lower mood.

Young people who use social media excessively also often have worse sleeping and exercise habits than their peers who are less active on social media. Both sleep and physical activity help to protect against depression.

Reduced self-esteem

The nature of social media has led to teens comparing themselves to their peers in an unrealistic way, skewing their self-image and lowering their self-esteem. Unfortunately, many teenagers that already don’t think highly of themselves may also use social media sites like Instagram for validation. They instead find themselves stuck in acceptance-seeking social media loops, where they post content in search of likes and compare their content posted by others.

Body image issues

Social media addiction in teens can exacerbate another common adolescent struggle—a negative body image.

Social media exposure worsens body image issues by giving teens a distorted image of what they “should” look like. Many young adults report viewing fitness content and comparing the photos of thin, athletic people to themselves. This pattern leads to more body dissatisfaction.

Eating disorders

Social media is notorious for glorifying idealized body images and diet culture, potentially leading to eating disorders. In one study of 13- and 14-year-olds with social media accounts, 51.7 percent of girls and 45 percent of boys reported disordered eating behaviors.

Social media can make it easier for these children to engage in disordered eating. Many posts glorify unhealthy dietary habits and dangerous levels of exercise. Also, social media-related cyberbullying around weight can prompt a young person to develop disordered eating or a diagnosable eating disorder.


Intentional self-injury, such as cutting or burning the skin, affects 18 to 22 percent of adolescents worldwide. Many young people turn to social media for support around their self-harm, only to find harmful communities that encourage the behavior.

The more time a young person spends on social media, the more likely they are to encounter self-harm content. Young people who view this content are more prone to trying this behavior themselves, even if they encounter the content accidentally.


Suicidal thoughts and attempts have increased among young people over the past 10 years. In 2021, 22 percent of high school students reported seriously considering suicide in the prior year. Multiple studies have identified connections between this trend and social media.

In 2021, Brigham Young University researchers released the results of the most extended study on social media and teens. It showed that when girls were heavy social media users at 13 and went on to increase their use, they were at higher risk of suicide as young adults.

Social media contributes to suicide risk in many ways. It can encourage cyberbullying, exacerbate existing mental health concerns, and encourage participation in risky trends.

Which Social Media Platforms Are Being Sued for Harming Teens?

Social media harm lawsuits aren’t limited to a single site or app. Here are just a few you need to be aware of.

Meta: Facebook and Instagram

Multiple families have filed lawsuits against Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, for encouraging harmful use levels. Several young users experienced such severe adverse mental health effects that they took their own lives.

Instagram has come under fire, particularly for promoting disordered eating. In 2022, two Instagram eating disorder lawsuits blamed the platform for exposing teenage girls to content promoting excessive thinness and extreme exercise.

These Instagram addiction lawsuits highlighted the Meta company’s prior knowledge of this harm.


TikTok is also facing legal action for exposing children to dangerous content. TikTok is teens’ most popular social media platform, with 16 percent of surveyed adolescents using it “almost constantly.”

Unfortunately, TikTok doesn’t do enough to warn parents of potential risks or protect younger users. The Social Media Victims Law Center recently filed a TikTok lawsuit on behalf of the families of two pre-teenage girls who lost their lives after participating in a dangerous challenge on the platform. Both developed addictions before age 10, three years before the supposed minimum user age.


Snapchat ranked as the favorite social media network for 35 percent of U.S. teens in 2021, making it the top platform, according to Statista. But, like TikTok, Snapchat fails to protect young people from harmful content. That includes young people who fall below the platform’s publicized minimum age.

For example, the Social Media Victims Law Center has filed a Snapchat lawsuit on behalf of the Rodriguez family, whose daughter developed an addiction at age nine and took her own life two years later. Other lawsuits tell similar stories of youth suicide, severe mental illness, and hospitalization due to social media addiction.

Who Can File a Teen Social Media Harm Lawsuit?

You may be entitled to compensation if you or your child has suffered harm due to a social media addiction. Although this particular type of addiction doesn’t yet have an associated diagnosis, looking at addiction, in general, can help you determine if you might have a case.

Addiction of all kinds, including social media addiction, can make victims:

  • Neglect in-person social circles
  • Fixate on social media use
  • Adopt unhealthy sleep patterns
  • Hide how much they go online
  • Use social media to escape real life
  • Experience mood changes

If you or your child has experienced any of these changes, you may qualify to file a social media addiction lawsuit.

How Can the Social Media Victims Law Center Help?

Harm from social media is serious, primarily when it affects the young. Matthew Bergman and the Social Media Victims Law Center team are committed to speaking out on behalf of the many victims of social media addiction. Matthew has been recognized as a Washington Super Lawyer since 2005, is listed among the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100, and has won over $1 billion for his clients.

We understand the social media companies’ legal and ethical responsibilities, and we’re here to hold them accountable. If you or your child has suffered from a social media addiction, we want to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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