40+ School Districts Suing Social Media Apps for Harming Kids

Social Media Lawsuits Teens

Parents and schools across the U.S. are becoming more concerned with how much social media is negatively affecting the mental health of students. Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland has recently filed a lawsuit against the companies that own social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

According to WTOP News, “The county said the end result is that those companies continue to rake in profits while schools and parents deal with the fallout that comes from their impact. In particular, the lawsuit cites increases in eating disorders, depression and suicidal ideations among teenagers.”

Prince George’s County is one of over 40 school districts across the U.S. that are suing major social media apps due to the negative impact it is having on kids and teens.

The Surgeon General just issued a warning about how social media is affecting the youth mental health crisis. Check out my article, “The Links Between Social Media and Teen Depression” to learn more about how social media affects teen mental health.

School districts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Washington State, are just some of the many states in the U.S. that have filed lawsuits against major social media apps.

Even San Mateo County, which is a part of Silicon Valley, has filed a lawsuit against apps like TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube.

When asked about why the school district was suing, San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Magee said, “As outlined in the Complaint, there is hard science behind the claim that social media is fueling a mental health epidemic in school-age children.

“Every day schools are dealing with the fallout, which includes distracted students, increased absences, more children diagnosed with ADHD, cyber-bullying that carries into the classroom, and even physical damage to our San Mateo Schools, an example is the vandalism caused by the TikTok so-called ‘Devious Lick Challenge’ at the start of the school year.”

Nancy Magee is referring to a viral TikTok challenge where students steal items from school including water fountains, sinks, soap dispensers, and even urinals. The trend has caused thousands of dollars in damage to schools throughout the U.S., with some schools being forced to close their bathrooms.

Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has issued a statement to defend itself against these lawsuits.

In a statement sent to WTOP News, Antigone Davis, Meta’s head of safety said, “We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and their families, including tools that allow parents to decide when, and for how long, their teens use Instagram, age verification technology, automatically setting accounts belonging to those under 16 to private when they join Instagram, and sending notifications encouraging teens to take regular breaks.

“We’ve invested in technology that finds and removes content related to suicide, self-injury, or eating disorders before anyone reports it to us. These are complex issues, but we will continue working with parents, experts and regulators such as the state attorneys general to develop new tools, features and policies that meet the needs of teens and their families.”

It’s important to note that despite Meta claiming to do all it can to help teens and parents manage screen time and protect themselves from the dangers of social media, it doesn’t negate the fact that Facebook and Instagram were purposely created to be addictive and “exploit a vulnerability in human psychology” which is what ex-Facebook president, Sean Parker has said.

Parker has been very outspoken out about the dangers of Facebook. “It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said at an Axios event in 2017.

Snapchat and TikTok have also issued statements that mirror what Meta has said. The apps highlight their companies’ commitments to ensuring the well-being of their users and mentions how they’ve implemented various features and measures to create a safe and positive environment on their platforms.

What do all these school districts hope to gain in suing huge social media apps? According to an article by The Washington Post, “School districts are generally seeking that the conduct of social media companies be declared a public nuisance, that their practices change and that damages be paid to fund prevention, education, and treatment for excessive and problematic use of social media.”

What do you think of the lawsuits against social media apps like Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube? Do you think it will change anything? What else do you think needs to be done in order to stop and prevent kids from becoming addicted and negatively impacted by social media? Sound off in the comments!

Tracy Lowe

Tracy is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, but Thailand has been her primary home for over a decade. She has more than 13 years of experience teaching young children and is a major proponent of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.

1 comment

Subscribe to the Parentology Weekly Newsletter