The public school district of Seattle demands payment from social media companies
Social media is an ever-present factor in the lives of children and teenagers. But according to the public school district in Seattle, apps like TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube are making the current youth mental health crisis worse. This caused the schools to take action and sue the companies behind these apps.
The claims that the schools in The Emerald City filed against the Big Tech companies were explained in a statement made on Saturday on the Seattle Public Schools-website. They say that “Students in the Seattle Public Schools, like students around the country, are struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidal ideation…” They write that these issues have been getting worse, even before the pandemic hit. And according to the public schools, research has “identified social media as playing a major role in causing mental health problems in youth.” Teenagers spend a lot of time on social media. The statement said that almost fifty percent of their students spend one to three hours a day scrolling through social media. Thirty percent spends over three hours on the apps.
The law suit is filed against the companies Alphabet Inc., Meta Platforms Inc., Snap Inc. and ByteDance Ltd. These are the companies behind the social media platforms that, as stated in the lawsuit (according to the New York Post), “have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of youth, hooking tens of millions of students across the country into positive feedback loops of excessive use and abuse of Defendants’ social media platforms.” According to Bloomberg, the Seattle school district consists of over a hundred schools that teach around fifty thousand children. The district wants to use the money to help the children that suffer from these mental health issues. According to the district, “Taxpayers should not bear the burden for the mental health crisis social media companies have created.”
The Seattle Public School District aren’t the first to try and hold social media companies accountable for the possible damage their apps cause to mental health. In 2022, several parents have filed lawsuits against social media companies for the harm they’ve caused their children. According to Bloomberg, a former employee of Meta revealed information about how the company would deliberately prey on young people to positively impact profits. In his 2022 State of the Union address President Biden said that it was important to “hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”