About 40 and counting school districts across the country are suing social media companies. They claim that their apps are addictive and damaging to students’ mental health. Furthermore, they are causing adverse impacts on schools and other government resources.

Many of these lawsuits were consolidated into one 281-page multidistrict litigation claim filed on March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs in the case include school districts, individuals and local and state governments. In total, there are about 235 plaintiffs.

The product liability complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages, as well as injunctive relief ordering each defendant to remedy certain design features on their platforms and provide warnings to youth and parents that its products are “addictive and pose a clear and present danger to unsuspecting minors.” 

Attorneys representing plaintiff school districts said this master complaint allows districts to share legal resources for similar public nuisance claims against social media companies in an attempt to recoup the money spent addressing the youth mental health crisis.

Specifically, individual district lawsuits describe actions taken by school systems to address student mental well-being. These actions include hiring more counsellors, using universal screeners and providing lessons on resiliency building. In its lawsuit, California’s San Mateo County Board of Education also explains how it had to reallocate funding to pay staff to address bullying and fighting, hire more security staff, and investigate vandalism. 

Moreover, schools are on the front lines of this crisis, said Lexi Hazam. Lexi is an attorney with Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein and co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs’ consolidated complaint. 

In detail, the design features “manipulate dopamine delivery to intensify use” and use “trophies” to reward extreme usage.

School districts “are often having to divert resources and time and effort from their educational mission in order to address the mental health crisis among their students.”

Lexi Hazam
Co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs’ consolidated complaint

Thank you for taking the time on reading our blog post on schools fight social media. You can read the full article ‘Wave’ of litigation expected as schools fight social media companies over at SocialMediaToday