Rockingham County Schools joins national lawsuit against social media companies over youth mental health crisis

EDEN, NC (WGHP) Rockingham County Schools announced that the school district is joining a nationwide lawsuit against several major social media platforms and the damage they cause to children’s mental health.

In 2023 alone, hundreds of school districts have filed lawsuits against social media platforms and their parent companies, including Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, Snapchat owner Snap, TikTok owner ByteDance and YouTube owner Google. A simple search for “schools sue social media” will return results for several similar lawsuits.

The effort is to try to change the behavior of social media companies and try to compensate school boards for their losses, said Janet Ward Black, an attorney associated with the companies.

Baird, Mandalat, Brockstedt and Federico, who represent school districts on the issue, said more than 200 school districts have filed. In North Carolina, these include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Clinton City Schools, Cumberland County Schools, Johnston County Public Schools, Moore County Schools, Pitt County Schools, Public Schools of Robeson County, Union County Public Schools, Wayne County Public Schools, and Wilson County. School.

It’s hard enough to educate young kids as it is now… When you have these distractions… that are addictive, cause young people to be suicidal, have eating disorders, anxiety and depression, it adds to the burden. of school systems to educate children, Black said.

In October, Reuters reports that several states and the District of Columbia are suing Meta Platforms and Instagram due to their addictive nature to youth.

In November, a federal judge rejected an effort by Facebook and the parent companies of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to dismiss the nationwide lawsuit. According to Reuters.

Rockingham County Schools announced Wednesday plans to become the latest school district to be involved in lawsuits against these companies.

The school district’s statement cited a correlation between “excessive social media use and adverse effects on mental health, including increased anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness, and decreased self-esteem” among youth.

The RCS also accuses social media platforms of increasing addiction with “sophisticated algorithms designed to maximize user engagement”.

Superintendent John O. Stover III says the school district’s goal is to raise awareness of the platforms’ impact on students and send a message to parent companies.

We joined the lawsuit against Snap, TikTok, ByteDance, Google/YouTube, and Meta Platforms to raise awareness about the insidious effects of the constant social pressure that has become normalized on our students, and to send a message to those same companies. needs to take enforcement of its own standards more seriously and do more than pay lip service to its commitment to protecting students.

Furthermore, the purpose of our joining the court is not to get additional funding but to protect our students. However, if we are awarded damages as a result of this lawsuit, Rockingham County Schools would dedicate any monetary awards to doing the work that social media companies should have done alone, doubling our efforts to raise awareness about the harmful effects of 24. /7 access to these platforms is for the students’ general mental health and well-being.

Superintendent John O. Stover III

You can read the school district’s announcement in its entirety below:

As educators and overseers of children’s well-being, we recognize and deeply care about the harmful effects of social media on our students’ mental health and overall development. Numerous studies have revealed a worrying correlation between excessive use of social media and adverse effects on mental health, including increased anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness and reduced self-esteem among young people.

Social media platforms are often addictive because of sophisticated algorithms designed to maximize user engagement. These algorithms are designed to capture and retain attention using a variety of methods such as personalized content feeds, notifications, and “likes” that create an environment that encourages long-term and repeated use.

While social media platforms provide connections and opportunities for expression, we absolutely need to educate our children about responsible and balanced use. At Rockingham County Schools, we encourage parents, educators and policy makers to support an enabling environment that emphasizes informed digital engagement and advocates for actions that prioritize children’s well-being.

Rockingham County Superintendent of Schools John O. Stover III, Ed. says, we joined the lawsuit against Snap, TikTok, ByteDance, Google/YouTube, and the Meta platforms to raise awareness and send a message to the insidious nature of the constant social pressure that has become the norm for our students. companies need to take enforcement of their own standards more seriously and do more than pay lip service to their commitment to protecting students. Furthermore, the purpose of our joining the court is not to get additional funding, but to protect our students. However, if we are awarded damages as a result of this lawsuit, Rockingham County Schools would dedicate any monetary awards to doing the work that social media companies should have done on their own by doubling our efforts to raise awareness of the harmful effects of 24. /7 access to these platforms is for the students’ general mental health and well-being.

For more information or inquiries, contact RCS Superintendent Shawn Stover at jstover@rock.k12.nc.us or RCS Director of Safety and PIO Sean Gladieux at 336-627-2602 or spgladieux@rock. k12.nc.us.

Statement by Rockingham County Schools Joining Social Media Lawsuits

Both Ward Black Law and Rockingham County Schools were on board against Juul, a popular vape device found to target youth with bright colors and fun flavors.

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They stopped making certain behaviors, like creme brulee or flavors like mango, Black said.

The case is progressing in California, where the social media companies are headquartered.

School districts pay nothing to be involved in this. It’s all based on a reserve payment. and Stover says many districts would put the money they receive into mental health services for students.

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