On Friday, Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, holding them accountable for the youth mental health crisis. (Associated Press)
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SEATTLE — A public school in Seattle has sued the companies behind popular social media platforms Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube, blaming them for the dramatic decline in youth mental health. I claim there is.
The Seattle School District filed its complaint on Friday, and the Kent School District joined the lawsuit on Monday. Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback represents the district.
According to the Seattle School District complaint, young people with anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems “perform poorly in school, are less likely to attend school, and are more likely to be substantially engaged.” , social media is making it more difficult for students to use and act.”
The school is seeking maximum legal damages, saying compensation is needed to fund resources to address the alleged mental health crisis caused by social media. Keller Rollback attorney Dean Kawamoto said in an email to Deseret News that he wants these companies to be “responsible for the harm they are causing to students.”
The complaint points to research that reveals social media plays a major role in mental illness, and the national youth mental health crisis is leading to rising rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation among teenagers. The Keller Rollback quotes the U.S. Surgeon General, who recognized the mental health crisis last year, saying that one in five children ages 13 to 17 are currently , said he suffered from a mental health disorder.
Plaintiffs say social media companies design their platforms to keep users coming back. They say companies specifically target young people because they know that teens are key to growth.
“Young people are particularly affected by defendant’s manipulative behavior because their brains are not fully developed and, as a result, they lack the same emotional maturity, impulse control, and psychological resilience as other, more mature users. It is susceptible to ,” the lawsuit states.
By exploiting young and vulnerable brains, these companies create a positive feedback loop of excessive media consumption for profit, according to the complaint.
“These social media companies are fully aware that they are harming children, but this has not changed the way they do business,” said Kawamoto. “Seattle Public Schools has decided to take action to protect our students.”
In addition to manipulative business practices, the district has accused social media companies of curating content that encourages destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, cyberbullying and self-harm.
Google and Snap, Inc., the companies behind YouTube and Snapchat, responded to the lawsuit in an email to The Associated Press, clarifying their commitment to promoting mental health on their platforms.
Google spokesperson José Castañeda said, “We invest heavily in providing a safe experience for children across our platforms and have strong protective features to prioritize their health. and dedicated features,” he said, adding that parents can limit their child’s screen time and block certain content. device.
A Snap, Inc. representative pointed to in-app efforts to combat mental illness, including the 2020 initiative “Here For You” and content about suicide call services.
Meta Platforms Inc., which owns Instagram and Facebook, said in an email to Reuters that it has built in more than 30 mechanisms to support users’ mental health and will continue to work on it.
ByteDance, Inc., owner of TikTok, has not responded directly to the lawsuit.