Mother describes son’s social media addiction that ‘led to his death’

CJ Dawley was 17 when he died by suicide. In an exclusive interview with CNN Business, his parents explain how his social media addiction 'led to his death' and why they're suing Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

#Social Media

Produced by John General
Supervising Producer: Logan Whiteside


  1. I am so sorry for you…..hopefully, your story will help others…..may he rest in peace…..and may God comfort you with your immense loss….,🙏

  2. What people have to understand is that you have a lot of big mouths out here on social media. Doing stuff that they don’t have no business doing and telling something that they don’t have any business telling. Social media can be toxic if you don’t know how to use it properly.

    1. @wanakone voravong I’m not worried about that. I have the block button where I can block people.

    2. @Dinerokid 1603 exactly that is what I’m trying to say, so who’s problem is that, they can’t prevent all of young people from entering the social media because some young guys are misusing it is the responsibility of all communities I guess.

  3. First let me say say I’m sorry for this parents loss.

    Second I want to ask everybody here why would it be wrong to sue given the fact that Facebook themselves have said their social media product harms children? If Facebook has said that themselves then wouldn’t they partially be responsible for some of the suicides that have happened?

    1. @Marilena Ganea Nobody used tobacco that didn’t know it could cause cancer or death, Marilena. That’s personal accountability. Besides, millions of people have used tobacco and NOT gotten ill or died from it.

    2. Parents give devices and Access to these websites. Imagine being an alcoholic and suing Budweiser because I’m addicted to alcohol. This isn’t a cause an effect situation. This is a Parents making decision to put their children in an proper environment. I can’t blame the city of San Francisco. For all the people who committed deletion on the golden gate bridge!
      Unfortunately things are YOUR OWN FAULT sometimes. Not someone elses

  4. I’m so glad I grew up before social media.
    Get off your phones and look around.
    Social media zombies.

    1. @ Northern Sun
      I’m separated from my family. Dad passed away 22 years ago.
      My husband’s mother and dad both passed away over a decade ago. His brother isn’t a nice person so all we have each other.
      I don’t use my phone when he’s home. I’d rather enjoy his company.
      When we were children, in the early 1970’s, internet didn’t exist.
      Today, you go anywhere and everyone is, what I call, “playing with their digits”.
      Nobody uses a phone anymore. If they do, it’s usually a robocall.
      *True Story*
      This past Easter,
      I handwrote to an ex-coworker explaining to her I quit Facebook 4 years ago and to call me if she wants.
      I hand wrote my phone number on a separate piece of paper in a homemade card along with my potato salad recipe. No computers used.
      (My husband still uses Facebook).
      She texts me back to thank me. Bah!
      Hard to find good friendships these days.

    2. I could careless what’s trending, if I don’t see it on YouTube I swear il never hear about it 😆 … All I need is YouTube 👍🏾

  5. It’s truly just sad what we have become. Get off this social media garbage and spend time with your loved ones out in nature.

    1. I’m a 66 year old woman. Social media is addicting. Not for everyone, but it definitely affects some folks profoundly.

    2. @Lynn Gipe Especially so if you were staring at screens or on social media from a very young age. How does staring at a 2-D electronic object all day affect the brain’s development? Surely it does.

    3. agreed. i asked a brilliant shrink i know what is behind so much bad behavior, people acting asinine on airplanes etc. and sge said ” social media “

  6. The issue here is the easy access people under 18 haveto social media platforms such as snapchat, TikTok and Facebook among others. Teens can’t tell the amount of manipulation that occurs in these platforms. There should be legislation that prevents minors from having acess to socia media and in extreme cases a smartphone just like buying booze or tobacco.

    1. No the issue ate the “parents” who allow these kids to have free reign on the internet. These “parents” do not want to take accountability for what was their responsibility. The internet doesn’t owe anyone anything. These “parents” owe their children to teach them and steer them correctly.

  7. I feel so bad for this mother and father. I pray they find piece and appreciate their story. God Bless! Social Media is the new Cigarettes…Thank you for sharing!

  8. I believe social media killed my family member as well. He was so obsessed with it and he changed so much because of the algorithms. He became secluded and isolated. He eventually took his own life. I really hope this family wins. Social media perpetuates so many delusions. There’s no way to stop it. We are still mourning his loss. 💔🥀

  9. If there are any benefits to getting older, one might be having less of an interest in social media. It’s tragic that this young man won’t be growing older.

    1. @Miki van Duyn That’s what life is all about, Miki. Being on your phone the whole day or whenever you can.

  10. The social media companies hire prodigies in consumer psychology & behavior who spend years in making these platforms as engaging and addictive as possible. Also, they conduct user surveys about literally the most minute details regarding the interfaces of the platforms. And the only and only thing these platforms care for is maximizing their earnings & profits as much as possible. Human lives absolutely don’t matter to them in the slightest bit. The mom is absolutely right about the change in algorithm. I watched the clip with tears in my eyes & I feel devastated for their loss :((( There is a constant rat race on social media for getting the most likes, the most positive comments and the biggest number of viewers in live stream. There should absolutely a supra-corporate body to meticulously scrutinize and regulate the product-development stages of these platforms. If not, more social media-driven teen suicides may occur.

    1. Gaming companies do the same thing and so do companies that create commercials for their clients.

  11. Was on facebook for all of a few days when it first launched. Gave me the willies immediately and I deleted my account. People thought I was weird for years. I need to trust my instincts more.

    1. It thought it was rather strange that you couldn’t make your sidebar comments private, so that you could comment about politics, for example, without your Uncle Joe seeing it. He could see or not see your comments, but that was his choice, not yours, and vice-versa.

  12. Encourage kids to be open about their feelings and emotions. They may want to talk but when things are bottled up, it’s hard.

  13. This is the sort of thing that Elon “I’m a free speech absolutist” Musk wants to encourage when he takes over Twitter 🤮

  14. As an older adult who grew up before social media, there has always been a “wall” between myself and it. By wall, I mean I’ve never been able to take anything on social media all that seriously. To me, it’s something entirely artificial, intangible, and therefore has no real connection to the physical world. But to a child or teen who was born with social media, that wall doesn’t exist. For them, social media is as real and important as life itself. They don’t or can’t distinguish between the two. That’s what makes it so dangerous and harmful for them. I really feel for the parents who are caught between wanting their children to fit in with their peers, and fearing for their safety.

    1. And what has happened to brains which have been staring at a screen from a young age, then graduating to social media? How has brain development permanently changed? I expect the answer isn’t good.

    2. @E H I strongly suspect that same thing. In college, I wrote a paper on the effect of television on developing brains, and how it could possibly program the brain to learn only in short snippets accompanied by noise, color, and lighting. The paper suggested this might be linked to the explosion of attention deficit disorders among children in the era of television and other electronic media.

  15. I think this pandemic has taught people the importance of multiple streams of income, unfortunately having a job doesn’t mean security rather having different investments is the real deal.

  16. That is heartbreaking. All of us adults have been teenagers and remember how issues felt like the End of the World. Then when you get a little older and gain perspective and time, you can realize 99.9% of everything is not worth getting upset about.

    1. Def a major trial we hope everyone can make it through. As parents it’s likely most of what you say doesn’t stick just like it didn’t when your parents told you things when you were that age.

  17. Teens are too easily influenced by their peers, they are always looking for approval, always looking for praise, always for looking for someone else to like what they say or do. It’s horrifying to know some teens are unable to live their lives without social media and what comes with that. My heart goes out to this family and others who have suffered loss 🥹

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