EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Across the country a number of school districts have joined a lawsuit claiming that social media is impacting their students mental health -- negatively. At the same time , a number of U.S. Attorneys General have filed suits against Meta, Google and ByteDance over mental health concerns.
The lawsuit from the districts claims that the mental health impacts of social media trickle down into the classrooms and campuses. The El Paso Independent School District spoke about this lawsuit in a recent meeting, no action was taken and there was no further action on it, according to district spokespeople.
The suit started with one district, and grew to over a dozen from other parts of the country. A number of Attorneys General from across the U.S. have also started investigations into how TikTok, a popular platform, impacted children and other users.
The districts in the school's suit claim the companies who designed the apps did so to keep students on phones for extended periods, and it negatively impacted how they view themselves. The suit involves claims about negative impacts of social media affecting student lives, performance and the schools performance.
The districts claim that younger people are particularly at risk due to their mental development, emotional maturity, impulse control as adults.
YouTube, Facebook and TikTok have been named in the suit, and ABC-7 reached out to these companies for comment. Several responded:
“Protecting kids across our platforms has always been core to our work. In collaboration with child development specialists, we have built age-appropriate experiences for kids and families on YouTube, and provide parents with robust controls. The allegations in these complaints are simply not true.” - Google Spokesperson
“We share the attorneys general’s commitment to providing teens with safe, positive experiences online, and have already introduced more than 30 tools to support teens and their families. We’re disappointed that instead of working productively with companies across the industry to create clear, age-appropriate standards for the many apps teens use, the attorneys general have chosen this path.” - a Meta spokesperson
Avery Martinez covers mental health in the Borderland as part of ABC-7’s Be Mindful initiative. He is also a Report for America corps member. RFA places talented, emerging journalists in newsrooms like ABC-7’s to report on under-covered issues and communities. Report for America is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up.