Social Media Suit | God's World News

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Social Media Suit

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    Teachers say students are hooked on social media. One Seattle school district is suing the companies behind the platforms. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)
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    Studies show that social media can negatively affect youth. (AP)
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    Social media apps on a cell phone (Press Association via AP Images)
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    Teacher Sheena York, center, helps fifth grade students during a computer science lesson in Marysville, Washington. (AP/Elaine Thompson)
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Never mind Hooked on Phonics. Seattle Public Schools teachers say students are hooked on social media. School district lawyers allege the platforms are addictive on purpose—and to blame for a growing health crisis. And it’s serious enough that the district is willing to take the issue to court.

Anxiety, depression, and disordered eating are on the rise nationwide. According to Mental Health America, “Over one in 10 youth in the U.S. are experiencing depression.” The organization says depression hinders young people’s “ability to function” in school and elsewhere.

School district lawyers claim social media content directly affects schools’ educational success. Many schools have made changes. Administrators are finding more mental health experts, social media lesson plans, and teacher training necessary.

Seattle’s lawsuit includes supporting data showing that 2009-2019 saw a large increase in the number of public school students with mental health issues. Some students reported feeling “so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row” that they stopped doing some activities.

The district’s suit seeks to hold the tech giants behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat accountable.

The companies “have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of youth,” the official complaint reads. It claims social media platforms “hook” students on their products. Further, the suit says they “recommend and promote harmful content to youth.”

Big Tech companies deny the problems lie with them. Meta owns Facebook. Officials say Facebook features more than 30 tools to support teens and their families. But studies reveal the company knew Instagram (also owned by Meta) negatively affected teenagers. The platform allegedly harms body image and worsens eating disorders and thoughts of self-harm.

Snap Inc. says it works to protect young people on its platform. “We will continue working to make sure our platform is safe and to give Snapchatters dealing with mental health issues resources,” the company says.

A Google spokesperson asserts that YouTube has “invested heavily in creating safe experiences for children.” YouTube offers parental power to set reminders, limit screen time, and block certain types of content on children’s devices.

The Seattle school district wants the court to order tech companies to stop creating a public nuisance and to award damages. It also wants the platforms to pay for treatment for excessive social media use.

If past performance is any sign, social media seems unlikely to change its ways. People—even children—must control their own behavior. Even if that means hitting “delete.”

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. — Proverbs 25:28

Why? Every person must accept responsibility for his or her own actions. That includes how we use our time and how we manage social media. But it also includes what we choose to promote to others for personal gain.