School districts join social media lawsuit: What’s it about?

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Apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok have been blamed for students’ declining mental health. Greece is one of the latest school districts to join the lawsuit. Hilton Central Schools joined just last week. More than 200 districts nationwide are participating.

District administrators say for too many children social media use is compromising their sleep, and in-person time with family and friends. Both districts say students are showing the effects of being addicted to these social media companies, and it’s taking a toll on their education and mental health.

“We need to find a way to support our students both academically, and with their social, emotional health,” said Greece Central School District Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Smalline.

Whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or Snapchat, most young people can’t get enough of these apps. Now more than 200 school districts are joining a lawsuit, saying these companies use unethical tactics to target users who are often young people.

“What we learned is that through social media addiction you will see some of the side effects of that are anxiety. You’ll see depression, ADHD, and also suicidal ideation, and self-harm are just to name a few,” said Smalline.

He also says teachers can see that student’s sleep, and their face-to-face connections with family and friends, are compromised. So much so the district recently hired 15 mental health care counselors just to handle students’ mental health needs.

“I think that the pandemic opened our eyes a lot to some of the mental health needs of our students, and it feels that through the transition back to normalcy that we’ve just seen more, and more students coming to us with these needs, and interfering with our learning,” said Smalline.

Tuesday night, the Greece Board of Education voted 5-2 to join the lawsuit. Last week Hilton’s school board also chose to join. Hilton Superintendent Dr. Casey Kosiorek says the negative effects of social media can’t be ignored.

“Back in the day when there wasn’t that connection of social media you had some reprieve from some situations when you got home from school. Now unfortunately due to the social media connection, you have individuals being able to communicate and reach out to others,” said Kosiorek.

He went on to say if school districts prevail, these companies will have to help fund instruction for students on how to use these apps responsibly, and for counseling.