Latest developments in causes and treatments



Social Media Addiction Cases Dismissed Against Meta, Snap, TikTok, and Google

In a stunning rebuke to hundreds of school districts who brought lawsuits against social media companies to recover the costs of student social media addiction, a California state court has tossed them all. Bloomberg broke the news about the decision:

A California state judge sided [June 7, 2024] with Meta, Snap Inc., TikTok Inc., and Google LLC in throwing out the districts’ allegations that social media has increased the cost of education because it makes students more distracted and disruptive, driving up the need for classroom discipline, employee training and communication with parents.

We have written numerous pieces about social media addiction and smartphone addiction here at AddictionNews, recognizing first and foremost that neither social media addiction nor smartphone addiction is recognized as a mental health disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Internet use disorder is recognized in DSM-5 and includes many of the same elements as social media addiction and smartphone addiction, and patients are being treated for problem smartphone use all over the world. This is a good place to summarize some of the reporting we have done on this issue:

  • Next came a story about research from Italy showing the impacts on the mental health of teens resulting from excessive smartphone use.
  • Finally, just last week, we reported that New York State is requiring social media companies to follow new rules designed to limit teenage social media use.

In light of all these stories, all of this news, last week’s ruling throwing out hundreds of social media addiction lawsuits is going to go down as the shot heard round the internet. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl likened the idea of making media companies liable for the emotional damage that using their products cause to making a restaurant liable for an auto accident “caused” by food poisoning.

Many lawsuits blamed the tech giants for “challenges circulated on the platforms that allegedly encouraged students to damage school property.” The tech companies argued successfully that they can’t be held liable for content uploaded by users of their sites under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The school districts are understandably disappointed. The ruling affects only a handful of the 617 cases in front of the court, but it sets a precedent.

In summary, the decision to limit a CEO’s liability for intentionally designing products that knowingly harm children, followed by a decision to eliminate tech companies’ liability for platforms engineered to injure, means it’s pretty much open season on smartphone users, even children, especially children. We’ll continue to follow the news here at AddictionNews, but today’s news is the courts will not intervene to keep your child from becoming hooked on screens even if it causes lifelong behavioral problems.

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published June 24, 2024.


“Social Media Giants Avoid School Districts’ Addiction Claims,” Bloomberg, June 7, 2024.

“Expert Perspective on Biggest Court Cases,”, June 14, 2024.

Image Copyright: dr911.


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