When tech companies get taken to task for the suicide of an 11-year-old

  • With the increasing spotlight on the role that tech companies play in our everyday lives, there are calls for greater safeguards for the emotional and mental well-being of younger individuals.
  • Student, Emma Wong, explores the issues young people face with social media.
(Photo source: Unsplash)
(Photo source: Unsplash)

Meta Platforms and Snap Inc. that run several prominent social media apps, are being blamed for the suicide of an 11-year-old girl who became addicted to Instagram and Snapchat. This is according to the girl’s mother who has recently filed a lawsuit against the two major companies. 

Even so, this is not the first incident in which these big tech companies have come under fire for failing to protect young individuals on their platforms. 

In November 2021, an investigation into Meta was opened for promoting its social media app Instagram, despite knowing that it would pose detrimental effects on a young individual’s emotional and mental well-being. 

“Facebook (now Meta) had failed to protect young people on its platforms and instead chose to ignore, or in some case, double down on ‘known’ manipulations that pose a real threat to physical and mental health; exploiting children in the interests of profit,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, one of the leaders of the investigation, in a statement.

While social media brings some benefits to modern society, how has it unknowingly affected the youth? 

According to a study by the North Carolina Medical Journal, the increased frequency of interactions that occur as a result of the fast-paced social media landscape cause youths to be more prone to incidents of cyber victimisation. 

In addition, youths are increasingly employing self-presentation on social media, resulting in carefully curated posts on these platforms that could cause negative comparisons among themselves. This has given rise to higher rates of self-harm, suicidal behaviour and depression, in consequence of one’s deteriorating mental health.

Apart from mental health issues, with youths’ increasing reliance on their mobile phones, many have suffered worsening quality of sleep and shorter sleep cycles. 

(Photo source: Canva)

With all these negative impacts, how can we protect the youths from the negative influence of social media? 

Firstly, disable the children’s social media notifications, reducing aimless checking of their accounts on their mobile phones. 

Secondly, set limits to the time spent on social media. This can be done using the “Screen Time” feature for Apple users, or apps for Android users.

Lastly, encourage your children to pick up hobbies and other activities to fill up their free time instead of having them spend it on social media. 

This piece is a user contribution by Emma Wong, an aspiring lawyer who is currently awaiting entry into university. TheHomeGround Asia’s user-generated content is a community engagement initiative to lend a voice and platform for people within the community to share their stories and ideas that represent the sentiments and views of ordinary people. We aim to connect people by providing unique insights and points of view from the community, giving readers the opportunity to see things from a local perspective.

Join the conversations on TheHomeGround Asia’s Facebook and Instagram, and get the latest updates via Telegram.

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