American schools are suing Instagram and TikTok for children’s health

“Defendant has successfully exploited the vulnerable minds of adolescents. Tens of millions of students across the country have been caught in a cycle of excessive consumption of content that is often harmful, satirical, and offensive,” according to the 91-page district court application filed by Seattle Public Schools.

According to the schools, Google, Meta, Snap and TikTok are responsible for the deterioration of the mental health of young people and the development of negative phenomena such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and cyberbullying. Schools also report that it is difficult to educate students and they are having to hire mental health professionals and provide teachers with special training on social media.

How does TikTok work?

TikTok is most popular especially among teens, who, according to some statistics, are already using it more than Facebook. Of course, among the users of this Chinese social network we can also find the older generations.

The principle of this online service is very simple, it is based on very short videos that are played one after another. It’s the same as if you were viewing posts on Facebook and scrolling the same screen to more and more posts.

But instead of text, they’re playing keynote videos on TikTok, which are short recordings of three to 60 seconds in length. And such a short duration seems to be a recipe for success, because in the US, the Chinese social network has overtaken Snapchat and Instagram.

“We have invested heavily in creating a safe environment for children on all of our platforms. We have strong safeguards to ensure their sanity,” Jose Castaneda, a spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, told the Associated Press. Snap said in a statement that it “will continue to work to ensure that its platform (Snapchat) is safe and that “Snapchat users” have access to resources to help them overcome the mental health challenges young people face today.” Meta and TikTok did not yet respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press.

Seattle Public Schools says its survey showed a 30 percent increase between 2009 and 2019 in the number of children who “feel sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks at a time,” causing them to stop doing some normal activities.

In the United States, hundreds of families have already gone to court on similar grounds, claiming that their children are suffering from the influence of social networks, the Associated Press writes.

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In 2021, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen released documents about an internal study that showed the company knew Instagram was having a negative impact on teens in that it distorted their view of their bodies and made them more susceptible to eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. . Haugen said the platform prioritized profit over security and hid its search from investors and the public.

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