LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul joined a coalition of 42 attorneys general throughout the country in suing Meta in federal and state courts. First News at Nine’s Dashal Mentzel has more on how social media addiction can be harmful to kids and teens.

The social media network, Meta, is being sued for addictive features that are allegedly targeting kids. Child and Family Therapist with Gundersen Health System Jeff Reiland says that social media addiction can be dangerous for kids, “With people that develop an addictive process and addictive behavior to social media, the difficulty is not being on it. And in the case of children and teenagers, is it getting in the way of them going to school, getting their homework done, participating in sports, doing the things at home they do as part of the family?”

Reiland also has advice for parents to help prevent their kids from social media addiction, “I think it helps for parents and teens to have a conversation about that rather than parents, just in an authoritarian way, just going out and taking it out. For younger children, it’s always best to not even start until they’re much older and able to handle it.”

According to Reiland, being on social media for long periods of time can have long-term effects on children, “There are certainly studies that have pointed out that when young children are exposed to excessive amounts, three, four or five hours of screen time, it may actually delay their development that language development, cognitive development, and emotional development.”

Chloe Gale works with kids at the Good Fight Community Center in La Crosse and says that access to social media can make things hard for children’s mental health, “I think when you’re really young, you’re very impressionable. And so, when it comes to social media, you see so much online about or just like you see so many other people’s lives and it’s easy to become envious of the way those people live or to compare yourself because like you’re like I said, you know, young kids are very impressionable. So, when I was younger, you know, if I had had all this social media access the way that we do now, I think I would have really struggled with my self-image.”

If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, Reiland says to contact your primary care provider to get connected to resources like therapy.

The federal complaint, joined by 33 states and filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Meta knew of the harmful impact of its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, on young people. 9 additional attorneys general are filing lawsuits in their own states.

The Federal Trade Commission is planning to hire extra help to guide its efforts to regulate social media companies. The FTC democratic commissioner says the agency plans to bring on child psychologists.

Officials say the move would help the commission get expert advice on how social media may affect users’ mental health as well as the impact of dark patterns. The agency is reportedly hoping to hire child psychologists by next fall. The FTC has put an emphasis on safeguarding children when they go online.