Public schools in Seattle are suing the social media industry for causing mental health issues among teenagers. Specifically, the schools are taking platforms like YouTube, Meta-Facebook, TikTok, and others to court, with a 91-page lawsuit before a U.S. District Court.

According to the schools, tech giants behind social media platforms are risking the mental health of young Americans. They cite harmful integrations that “exploit the psychology and neurophysiology of their users.”

Furthermore, the plaintiffs say these platforms force users to spend more and more time on them. In the lawsuit, the schools point out that young people have access to harmful content. They also say that there is a direct line between social media usage and worsening performance in schools.

Specifically, students on social media are “less likely to attend school, more likely to engage in substance use, and to act out, all of which directly affects Seattle Public Schools’ ability to fulfill its educational mission.”

It says there has been a 30% rise in students feeling sad and hopeless every day over two weeks between 2009 and 2019.

The lawsuit reads:

“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. Worse, the content Defendants curate and direct to youth is too often harmful and exploitive (e.g., promoting a “corpse bride” diet, eating 300 calories a day, or encouraging self-harm).”

Response

Google is one of the companies named in the lawsuit. Spokesperson José Castañeda told Axios in a statement that the company fulfils its obligations to young users:

“We have invested heavily in creating safe experiences for children across our platforms and have introduced strong protections and dedicated features to prioritize their wellbeing, for example, through Family Link, we provide parents with the ability to set reminders, limit screen time and block specific types of content on supervised devices.”

Meta claims it has created “more than 30 tools” to boost its parental controls and solutions for policing how teenagers use the platform.

Tip of the day: Tired of Windows´s default notification and other system sounds? In our tutorial we show you how to change windows sounds or turn off system sounds entirely.