Seattle Public Schools Sues Big Tech for ‘Creating’ Youth Mental Health Crisis


A Seattle public school district is suing some major social media companies, demanding the platforms pay for poisoning children’s brains and making it harder to teach.

A lawsuit filed Friday by Seattle Public Schools against the companies behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat and YouTube seeks compensation for expanding the district’s mental health resources.

The school district says the apps worsen a growing youth mental health crisis — interfering with teachers’ ability to do their jobs and creating grounds for a lawsuit.

“Defendants have successfully exploited the vulnerable minds of young people to engage tens of millions of students across the country in a positive feedback loop of overuse and abuse of Defendants’ social media platforms,” ​​the lawsuit states.

In a statement on Saturday, Seattle Public Schools laments that students “struggle with anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation.”

“This crisis was already intensifying before the pandemic, and studies have found that social media plays a major role in causing mental health problems in young people,” the school said, noting that more than 90% of US youth are on social media.

Seattle Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against the companies behind social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok.
Reuters

“Research shows that excessive and problematic social media use is harmful to young people’s mental, behavioral and emotional health and is associated with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders and suicide” .

In Washington state, nearly 50 percent of students say they spend between one and three hours a day on social media, and 30 percent spend three or more hours on apps, according to school district data.

“Our students and young people everywhere are facing unprecedented learning and life struggles, exacerbated by the negative effects of more screen time, unfiltered content and the potentially addictive nature of social media,” the chief said. director Brent Jones.

The district claims that mental health issues stemming from social media are overwhelming school counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses and straining its limited resources.

“Taxpayers should not bear the burden for the mental health crisis created by social media companies,” the district said.

Seattle is a tech hub that’s home to Microsoft and Amazon—neither of which are contenders. Meta, which owns YouTube, Snapchat and Google have offices in Seattle, and some parents in the district may be employees of the companies being sued.

The social media companies have yet to respond, but Meta CEO and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly rejected the idea that the company has a negative impact on people’s mental health.

“The argument that we’re purposely pushing content that makes people angry for profit is absurd” he wrote on Facebook in 2021. “We make money from advertising, and advertisers tell us all the time that they don’t want their ads to appear next to content that is harmful or offensive. “I don’t know of any technology company that sets out to make products that make people angry or depressed.”

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