Accusations of growing mental health risks to children and young people.
Numerous US school districts are suing social media giants. They argue that Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube are contributing to the growing mental health crisis among youth in the US. The series began in January with a lawsuit filed by Seattle Public Schools and picked up steam in recent weeks as school districts in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida followed suit. According to the lawyers involved, many more lawsuits are planned.
Allegations of addiction
San Mateo County, home to 23 school districts and part of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, filed a 107-page lawsuit in federal court last week alleging that social media companies are using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to create addictive platforms that harm young people.
“The situation is catastrophic,” the submission states. More and more children are struggling with their mental health when they overuse the platforms, it says. “There is simply no historical analogue to the crisis now facing the nation’s youth,” it said.
Biden: It’s all about profit
The lawsuit points to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov) that more and more students are experiencing depressive symptoms and even suicidal thoughts. The increasing popularity of social media is consistent with declines in adolescent mental health, it says. The plaintiff quotes US President Joe Biden, who recently said that the tactics used by social media corporations are an “experiment they are conducting on our children for profit”.
According to Nancy Magee, Superintendent of San Mateo County Schools, rampant social media use has left its mark on the schools. She said there were “very serious” cyberbullying incidents related to the social web. She also pointed to other damage such as vandalism in high school restrooms during the so-called “Devious Lick Challenge.” Students across the country stole soap dispensers, flooded toilets, smashed mirrors and then showed their orgies of destruction on TikTok.