Seattle Public Schools Sues Social Media Companies For Allegedly Harming Students’ Mental Health | CNN Business
The Seattle Public School System on Friday filed a lawsuit against several Big Tech companies alleging that their platforms have a negative impact on the mental health of students and claiming that this has prevented the ability of their schools “to fulfill their educational mission”.
The lawsuit was filed against the parent companies of some of the most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.
The school district, which is the largest in Washington state with nearly 50,000 students, alleges the they fit the companies “have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of young people” to maximize the time users spend on their platforms to increase profits. The actions taken by the platforms, according to the suit, “have been a substantial factor in causing a crisis in youth mental health, which has been marked by ever-higher proportions of young people struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm and suicidal ideation”.
The school district said students who suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health problems perform worse in school, are less likely to attend school, are more likely to use substances and act out. The district said it continues to take additional steps to train teachers and screen students for mental health symptoms who may need more support, but it needs a comprehensive, long-term plan and funding amid the growing mental health crisis that ” young people are experiencing today.” [the companies’] hands.”
The school district is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
The suit It comes more than a year after executives at the social media platforms faced tough questions from lawmakers during a series of congressional hearings about how their platforms may target younger users, and particularly teenage girls. to harmful content, damaging their mental health and body image. While a growing number of families have filed lawsuits against social media companies over their alleged impact on their children’s mental health, it’s unusual to see a school district take this step.
In a statement sent to CNN on Monday, Antigone Davis, Meta’s global head of security, said it continues to pour resources into ensuring its young users are safe online. He said the platforms have more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including monitoring tools that allow parents to limit the amount of time their teens spend on Instagram and age verification technology that helps teens to have age-appropriate experiences.
“We will continue to work closely with experts, policy makers and parents on these important issues,” he said.
The other companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In the past year, several prominent social media platforms have introduced more parental control tools and options in an effort to better protect younger users amid growing scrutiny.
TikTok, which has faced pressure from lawmakers over both its potential impact on younger users and its ties to China, announced in July that it would introduce new ways to filter mature or “potentially problematic” videos. Added safeguards assign a “maturity score” to videos detected as potentially mature or complex topics. TikTok also launched a tool that aims to help people decide how much time they want to spend on the app.
Snapchat, meanwhile, has introduced a parent guide and hub aimed at giving parents more information about how their teens use the app. This includes more information about who your children have been talking to in the past week, without disclosing the content of those conversations.