Facebook (now known as Meta) recently was hit with a wave of lawsuits relating to the company’s platforms and their negative impact on teen mental health; now the company’s Instagram platform is influencing teens to “Take a Break” and stop consuming harmful content.
Breitbart News recently reported that Instagram’s parent company Facebook (now Meta) was hit with a number of lawsuits relating to teen mental health. The law firm Beasley Allen has filed eight lawsuits claiming that the company’s platforms Facebook and Instagram have been detrimental to young people’s mental health. The law firm released a statement stating that Meta not only “exploits young people for profit,” but actively aimed to make its platforms as psychologically addictive as possible and failed to protect its users.
Protocol reports that in response, Instagram is now influencing teens to turn on “Take a Break” reminders and stop consuming harmful content. In late 2021, Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced a new opt-in feature called “Take a Break” that lets users set in-app reminders to stop scrolling after a predetermined time period.
A new Instagram update includes a partnership program with young content creators that urges teens using the platform to enable the “Take a Break” feature. The creators involved include Soy Nguyen who regularly posts popular “eat with me” videos and climate activist Maya Penn.
Dayna Geldwert, head of global policy programs at Instagram, commented on the difficulties of implementing these features, stating: “How do we not compromise teens’ freedoms and autonomy? How do we not seem patronizing but actually express and communicate the value of turning something like this on?”
Geldwert chose creators who had already connected with young people on issues such as mental health in a way that doesn’t come across as “overly earnest” or patronizing. University of Wisconsin adolescent health expert Megan Moreno commented on whether this campaign will be effective, referring to the Truth anti-smoking campaign as an example of when health-focused influencer efforts can go wrong.
“One of the really effective things about the Truth campaign is encouraging the teen to be a rebel by not falling in line with what the company’s telling you to do,” Moreno said. “It’s harder when the message comes from within.”
Anna Lembke, a psychiatry professor at Stanford, noted that the Take a Break feature may have the opposite effect and attract teens to spend longer on the apps. “They might help somewhat in people who aren’t already addicted, but I’m skeptical they’ll make much difference in those who are already struggling with a form of addiction to this digital content,” Lembke said. “Finding work-arounds may even add to their appeal, especially for young people, who like nothing more than to thwart authority.”
Read more at Protocol here.
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