Seattle’s public school system has filed a lawsuit against several social media companies, alleging their platforms have a harmful impact on students’ mental health. The suit alleges the effects of social media apps on students impedes the ability of a school “to fulfill its educational mission.”
The district filed the lawsuit against the parent companies of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.
In the suit, the district alleges that the companies “have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of youth” by manipulating users into spending an extraordinary amount of time on their platforms. The suit also alleges that these platforms have “been a substantial factor in causing a youth mental health crisis, which has been marked by higher and higher proportions of youth struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidal ideation.”
School officials shared that they are offering training to teachers to help screen students for mental health symptoms, but a longer, more comprehensive plan is needed amid the growing mental health crisis students are experiencing at the hands of social media platforms. The school district is seeking unspecified monetary damages to be used for funding this plan.
The Seattle public schools’ lawsuit is an important step in addressing the emerging mental health crisis among youth. As the largest school district in the state of Washington, its actions could help lead to a major change for students across the country.