Big Tech controls much of the daily lives of people around the world. It's due to this that they hold unfathomable levels of power, and a few people apparently want them to be liable for the power that they wield.
One of these folks that clamor for liability is The Hill opinion contributor Nathaniel Counts, who also works at Mental Health America as its senior vice president of Behavioral Health Innovation.
He made a bold claim recently: according to him, Big Tech should pay for allegedly damaging people's mental health.
But does his claim have merits?
Let us explore a few things that take a deeper look at how Big Tech, specifically social media networks, can affect anybody's mental health.
Big Tech Designed Social Media A Certain Way
Any kind of activity that consumes a person's every waking hour can be considered addictive. The potential to develop a longing for social media is due to how Big Tech created it: it was designed to have a "reinforcing nature" that stimulates the brain's risk and reward center, writes McLean Hospital.
When that part of the brain gets activated, it releases dopamine, or the so-called "feel-good hormone." This hormone is connected to other pleasurable activities such as food and even social interaction.
Enter Big Tech and social media.
The use of these platforms have increased more than tenfold, to the point that as much as 72% of all US adults use at least one site, according to Pew Research.
This, in turn, has been invariably linked to increased cases of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and others. The people who have the highest risk of falling into this trap are young people.
ETactics stated that 56% of eight-graders spending over 10 hours on social media every week are more likely to report they're unhappy.
Here are a few other stats:
13% of youngsters aged 12 to 17 years old have reported depression, 32% say they suffer from anxiety, and 25% of 18 to 25 year-old individuals say they've been diagnosed with some type of mental illness.
Read also: A Deep Dive Into the Future of Social Media
Are The Authorities Doing Something About This?
Yes. Over the past few years, Big Tech social media companies seem to want to take steps in protecting the mental health of their users.
Twitter, for one, recently showed off some concepts that would help people limit the amount of toxic replies they get on their tweets.
Another one is TikTok, which released their own new features that aim to help users struggling with mental health issues.
Both these efforts, along with others, seem to be a good start.
Aside from Big Tech companies, world governments have also taken steps to at least minimize the negative effects of rampant social media addiction.
A lot of concerned parties have been lobbying policymakers, trying to convince them that this is a real threat to the safety of everyone.
But the main problem is that a lot of these Big Tech owners of social media platforms aren't too transparent about what's happening behind the scenes. They then use this "loophole" to claim their apparent ignorance.
So, should Big Tech be held liable for the world's declining mental health? It's a big accusation to make that needs further study and deliberation among knowledgeable individuals.
This article is owned by Tech Times
Written by RJ Pierce