Technology and Media | Consumer Fraud Protection

Dangers of Social Media For Youth

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Studies show that there are serious dangers linked to social media use. These dangers include the risk of mental health issues, cyberbullying, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These dangers may particularly affect tweens and teens. Learn more about how social media is used and the harm it can do.

The negative impact of social media on youth

A majority of U.S. adolescents (children aged 13 – 18) use social media every day. For some, use of social media can become addictive or compulsive, with potentially dangerous consequences. Particularly problematic are YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, the most popular social media platforms among young people.

A 2021 advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, describes the risks and dangers associated with social media use.

“The challenges today’s generation of young people face are unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate.” Murthy wrote. “And the effect these challenges have had on their mental health is devastating.”

Learn about social media addiction and statistics here.

Mental health impacts of adolescent social media use

The Surgeon General’s advisory described several negative effects of social media, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Body dissatisfaction (body image issues)
  • Depression
  • Exposure to bullies
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor mental health, contributing to development of eating disorders
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Self-harm
  • Social comparison

Studies show teens who spend more than three hours daily on social media platforms are doubly likely to develop mental health issues.

Cyberbullying linked to self-harm and suicidal behaviors

Time spent on social media is not just time spent scrolling through a platform’s feed. Young people may also interact with other users, and Cyberbullying is also a risk for teens online. Researchers have found that “between 10% and 40% of teens will experience cyberbullying.

Other studies have found cyberbullying may contribute to self-harm, depression and suicidal behaviors. One study reported that “cyberbullying is associated with higher levels of depression, low self-esteem, behavioral problems, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and attempt[ed suicide] for both the victim and the perpetrator.” A San Diego State University study also found teens who use social media and smartphones for over five hours a day are at 66% higher risk of engaging in suicidal behavior.

Help for self-harm and suicidal behavior

If you or a loved one are in crisis, national resources can help immediately.

  • You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. This free and confidential call will connect you with a trained staff member. You can also visit their website:
  • You can contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) toll-free number at 1-800-931-2237. The association’s website can also direct you to resources at

Trained professionals can help addicted users. People addicted to social media may also be eligible to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for social media addiction and harms. 

Contact a social media addiction attorney

You may be eligible to file a claim if you or your child has suffered negative mental health effects from using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Contact Motley Rice today for more information about a social media lawsuit.

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Our experience helping teens and families

Our attorneys at Motley Rice have worked for decades fighting for people and families. We have experience dealing with technology and media companies.

If you need help filing a lawsuit for social media addiction, our law firm can help. Your well-being, and the wellbeing of all your loved ones is important to our team.

Please also contact a doctor, mental health professional, and/or crisis hotline if you need immediate help dealing with the negative impacts of social media.

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