This past Friday, Seattle Public School District officials officially filed a lawsuit targeting a number of social media titans such as Facebook, TikTok, and others, for allegedly, and intentionally, creating and maintaining a crisis in mental health among young people.
The plaintiffs slammed a massive 91-page lawsuit in a U.S. District Court arguing that the platforms, which also seem to include Google, Snapchat, and YouTube, have sparked a public nuisance affecting Seattle Public Schools.
“Defendants 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,” expressed the lawsuit. “Worse, the content Defendants curate and direct to youth is too often harmful and exploitive.”
The suit alleges that these social media companies are highlighting content that promotes things such as a ‘corpse bride’ diet, in which they eat only 300 calories per day, or even encouraging self-harm. Additional mental health harms that the lawsuit accuses the big tech companies of creating among youth include cyberbullying, anxiety, and suicide.
The suit also makes the argument that students dealing with these mental health issues end up doing much worse in school and are less likely to show up to class while taking part in substance use, which “directly affects Seattle Public School’s ability to fulfill its educational mission.”
Seattle Public School District has made the claim that roughly 30% of the students reported being hopeless or sad for a period longer than two weeks between 2009 and 2019, which forced them to not take part in a number of typical activities.
Officials with the school district went on to argue in the suit that the overall state of children’s mental health led the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association to announce a national emergency and the U.S. Surgeon General to put forth an advisory “to highlight the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis.”
In the same vein, President Joe Biden put the spotlight on the social media titans in his 2022 State of the Union Address, alleging that the harm being done by social media was forced onto American youth should implore everyone to “hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”
In a release sent to The Daily Mail, District Superintendent Brent Jones claimed that “it has become increasingly clear that many children are burdened by mental health challenges.”
“Our students — and young people everywhere — face unprecedented, learning and life struggles that are amplified by the negative impacts of increased screen time, unfiltered content, and potentially addictive properties of social media,’ stated Jones.
Other public school officials have stated, as reported by Insider Paper, that they are “holding social media companies accountable for the harm they have wreaked on the social, emotional, and mental health” of students.
“The increase in suicides, attempted suicides, and mental-health related emergency room visits is no coincidence,” expressed a statement.