back to article US schools sue Meta, Google and friends over 'youth mental health crisis'

Another lawsuit accuses Meta, Alphabet and other tech giants of harming kids in the interest of boosting profits. But this one takes it a step further and alleges that by contributing to the "youth mental health crisis," the companies' social media platforms are exacerbating US schools' counselors and clinics, and directly …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Its an update of an old custom

    Willie Sutton,, a notorious bank robber from the 1920s, was asked once "Why do you rob banks?". His answer was both insightful and obvious -- "Its where the money is".

    Robbing banks just isn't that lucrative these days. What is particularly lucrative is finding a group that you can get to sue a tech company or similar. It, too, is where the money appears to be (although most of their notional value is in inflated stock valuations). So everyone and their dog's at it. It doesn't matter if the plaintiffs are people alleging discrimination in a Tesla factory or a bunch of educators claiming that social media is destroying the children's lives. It really doesn't matter who, when or what because anyone who has been unwittingly been made party to a class action lawsuit knows that the only real winners are the lawyers.

    FWIW -- I regard social media as this century's version of television. Its one of those technologies that was initially seen as uplifting, helping us towards an enlightened utopia, but rapidly became mostly a crock of evil. (There's no money in enlightenment.) (Also -- there's nothing like a parade of pensioners remembering how some sexual encounter (or even not-so-sexual encounter) in their teens led them to a life of trauma and despair (assuming that the person who did it to them is rich enough to bother suing, of course.)

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: Its an update of an old custom

      This is not a class action lawsuit. The rest of your conspiratorial wibblings can be safely ignored.

  2. vekkq

    I enjoy a good big corp burn at stake moment. But, school systems are also to blame. They are dreadful learning environments. I understand why kids want to avoid them.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      At a guess that's something to do with the social media addling half the students' brains or the chance of getting shot being pretty high, and no politician doing a thing about it for years because they like the money from lobbying and are scared of the Freeze Peach and Freedumb mobs. If schools didn't have those things to contend with then they could be a lot less dreadful.

      1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        or possibly its because schools are no longer places for education, it where you go to be indoctrinated with the latest (eg woke) and pick up your certificate at the end regardless of having achieved anything or not - equality of outcome I presume.

      2. vekkq

        Sorry, I wasn't accounting for the additional issues US schools may have. What I meant is that schools often do a poor job in keeping kids motivated and interested in learning at all. Today, the difference it makes to kids is that the school isn't even the place to meet your friends anymore, since you can keep up with them via social media.

      3. SundogUK Silver badge

        The chance of getting shot in a US school is higher than in most countries but it's still pretty close to zero.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Trollface

    Don't forget

    5G, blue radiation from LEDs, vaccines, and whatever the aluminum foil on your head is blocking.

  4. Plest Silver badge
    Happy

    Six of one...

    On the one hand, yep totally agree, social media is absolute cesspit of shite that no one with half a brain should ever be allowed to use, least of all anyone under 25. Then again the stench of money is like swill to the legal profession and it's ( excuse me to reusing this ) "swineish multitude", they'll chase an ambulance for a customer with even a small chance of winning.

    I suppose if a bit of money gets back into schools by prying some of that ad revenue cash out of Zuck's hands, then it can't be all bad I guess.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Six of one...

      Then again the stench of money is like swill to the legal profession

      I prefer to see them as a biological control agent that reduces the plague of invasive corporations to manageable levels

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Of course social media are bad for kids (and not only) and do whatever possible to enlarge their audience, also among kids. There's a lot of money to make.

    Now that 6 year-old kids begin to shoot teachers, maybe schools should also think about suing the NRA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hopefully the parents of the 6 year old will face justice for not locking up their guns securely. In the UK, it would certainly be a crime, I don't know about the various states in the US.

      Personally speaking, I'd rather people don't own guns at all, but if you really have to own a gun, you should keep it away from anyone not capable of understanding that pointing it at people *without* pulling the trigger is very wrong. I'm not just talking about 6 year olds, there are plenty of adults in the world who don't seem to understand this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Leftpondian here. I'd be quite happy if gun owners were charged as an accessory anytime their gun was used in a crime, unless they can show it was properly secured (i.e. locked up). If you leave it in a drawer and your kid uses it, or leave it under the car seat and it's stolen, you're an accessory to the crime committed with the gun. If someone breaks into your locked gun cabinet to steal it, you're innocent.

        1. Normalized insanity

          Agreed. However, my question is, if we are such a civilized society, why do we make weapons in the first place?

      2. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        View from the UK here ...

        I'm so on the fence about toy guns that I have (metaphorical) splinters in my backside.

        On the one hand, when I was a kid we all played with toy guns - including cap guns that (if it ever worked right) would make a satisfying "bang" noise when you pulled the trigger (the ones taking ring caps were best, paper tape caps were usually rubbish). And of course we all "shot each other" on a regular basis. And neither myself nor, AFAIK, any of my schoolmates have turned into gun toting murderers - though one of my school friends managed to shoot himself with a (small) ball bearing fired from a (low power, hard to DIY good propellant) home made cannon !

        And now we have grand children, it's fun to fire rubber sucker projectiles (mostly "Nerf bullets") and see if we can get them to stick on the window.

        And on the other hand, I've told the grand kids that you never point a gun - even toy ones - at anyone or anything (like the pets) you don't want to harm. And one day, within a few seconds of having given a reminder of this, I snatched a toy rifle from one of them and smacked them on the bum with it - for pointing it at her brother.

        I can't see any scenario where they might find themselves holding a real gun, but even so, I can't help but think "don't point it any anyone" is a bad thing to impress on them.

  6. Khaptain Silver badge

    Multiple responsables

    The majors online corps have spent billions studying, developing and testing methods that keep us addicted to the screen. It's there sole means of gaining income... No users , no money.

    I believe that they do have a responsibility in the fact that they will push anything , no matter how bad the long terms effects , in order that they keep the money coming in.

    There is also a responsibility in the companies using these platforms as they also know that the methods are not clean.

    And yes there is also responsibility by the user or their parents.

    It's not a cut and dry situation.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Multiple responsables

      Time to tout my proposal to fix this: an attention tax. Any online service with more than X users who spend more than 1 hour per day engaged with it should have to pay some amount, per user-hour. Exemptions available for services that charge users more than $5 per month.

      Providers are tracking all this info. Let's turn it against them.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Multiple responsables

      And yes there is also responsibility by the user or their parents.

      Until recently no social media network had built-in parental controls. Now some claim they have parental controls but that usually means a pointless parent guide explaining what the settings page does. In other words parents are stopped from taking responsibility by the social media network while their children get hooked on the dopamine hits.

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: parents are stopped from taking responsibility by the social media network

        Read that back. Is that really how you think parenting works? I give my child this device but I can't control what they do with it. That's a problem with internet service providers?

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: parents are stopped from taking responsibility by the social media network

          No, it's a problem with social media networks, that's why I said "social media networks". Where did you get "internet service providers" from?

          You may even be aware that a social media account can be accessed from many devices and the account's settings and associated parental controls (or lack of them) have little to do with the device its accessed from.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: parents are stopped from taking responsibility by the social media network

          I have little control over how children use the devices unless I want to spend all my time supervising, and interfering.

          I managed to stop them having laptops and phones until high school.

          I initially ran filters on the router that blocked a wide swathe of undesirable content, and regulated usage time.

          Unfortunately school totally undermined that. Google's involvement with schools required unblocking a wide range of content for the kids to be able to do assignments.

          Most of the scholastic resources have toxic co-dependencies that have to be unblocked.

          The teachers used any random social platform to communicate with students during lockdowns - different for each teacher, plus both zoom and teams from the school.

          The kids use Discord for working on assignments as well as gaming.

          Wifey complained when she had the same 11pm internet curfew as the rest of us.

          So now, the only one left who has omni-filtering and an internet curfew is me.

          If only I could block my mother from watching T.V news and reading newspapers, I wouldn't have to listen to interminable diatribes about the latest way the world is about to end.

        3. hoola Silver badge

          Re: parents are stopped from taking responsibility by the social media network

          Whilst I understand partly where you are coming from in that it is possible to implement parental controls on devices, the issue is that for the average person this is simply beyond comprehension.

          There are also far to many parent's that use tablets and phones as "free" childcare, dump offspring somewhere with the device and leave them to amuse themselves. Those people are not going to give a stuff if the child is connecting to social media sites they should not.

          There is no age verification that works. Even if there was, it is far too easy to work around.

    3. naive

      Re: Multiple responsables

      Maybe we are with social media where we were in the 30's and 40's with smoking, people at the time knew smokers had a higher probability to die from diseases. But since the relation with tobacco usage was not understood well at the time, nothing could be done until the late 60's.

      Now we see whole generations of teenagers are unhappy, display higher than normal suicide rates and many experience reduced mental stability.

      It is not something the social media companies are causing on purpose, they just act as a medium giving bad people opportunities to bring harmful content to vulnerable users. People who debase humanity as a whole with their gender non-sense are allowed a broad platform on social media to poison our youth. The same goes with the self defying environmentalists and other elitists, who are horrible downers, conveying messages humanity should disappear, except themselves of course since they think they are better than the plebs.

      The result is that young people become insecure about what they are, what they can do and say and think the world will end unless only a handful of WEF billionaires live well.

      It is like drug dealers and other vermin that is allowed to roam freely and unpunished in our society, once one stops removing the weeds, one ends up with a garden full of poison ivy, wasp nests and thorny brambles. We need to stand up and fight for the health of our youth, outlaw gender crap, climate non-sense and promotion of drug use.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Multiple responsables

        And so the usual WEF, gender, environment, and climate conspiracies are channeled together, dressed up with a veneer of concern for the children, and barfed onto the Internet. Well done you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Multiple responsables

          Admittedly the plan for Oxford is going to make life a misery for people and ultimately produce more pollution. If you need to go to a shop on the other side of town as there isn't one near you then you have to go out via the ring-road and drive ALL THE WAY AROUND.

          1. sgp

            Re: Multiple responsables

            This argument always pops up whenever such a scheme is proposed and it has been debunked so many times. Just stop already.

          2. SundogUK Silver badge

            Re: Multiple responsables

            How many times a year do you need to personally visit a shop like that? Less than 100 times a year? Then you're good.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Multiple responsables

              Depends if I work there or not.

              1. sgp

                Re: Multiple responsables

                Oh so now you suddenly work there? How about sticking to the argument.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Multiple responsables

                  I bet you support the 4 day working week and full WFH.

                  1. MrDamage Silver badge

                    Re: Multiple responsables

                    Why not? Or better still, why should anyone be forced to EARN a living. This inherently states that your life is meaningless unless you produce something for a capitalist.

                    I bet you're a narcissistic middle manager who hates WFH because you can't exercise what little power you have in your pathetic life.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Multiple responsables

                      Oh heck no, middle managers are the scum of the earth!

                      Unfortunately most people's lives are meaningless and they have to fill the void with some sort of religion and deity they can worship. Be it Musk, Greta or Gawd. Most of the people who think their life will have meaning after the revolution are going to be the ones up against the wall.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Multiple responsables

        We live in a world dominated by outrage and hysteria. The news and govt LOVE a boogeyman. Back in the last century it was the danger of nuclear annihilation from the rooskies then the environmental movement took over banging their drum about impending doom. Keep them scared, keep them under control.

        The UK never had the nuclear war drills in classrooms so maybe we grew up a little more normal... Now we have Saint Greta scowling at us telling us we must live in the cold and dark while the elites fly in their private jets to eat slap-up dinners at fancy resorts while they discuss how to make the little people do their bidding. Some of the most vocal about CO2 are also the worst when it comes to emitting it and many have beach-front homes.

        With 24/7 news, social media, always connected etc. the flow of information is immense. And you know someone somewhere is profiting from a 'cure' for the problem. We have finally entered the time of Johnny Mnemonic and the world is coming down with the black shakes.

        I did see a funny meme "Early 20s person wonders why they suffer from anxiety while drinking their 5th coffee and binge watching murder documentaries".

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Multiple responsables

          The news and govt LOVE a boogeyman. Amongst others. I know some people who's life aren't complete unless there is a boogey man in the picture.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Multiple responsables

          "The UK never had the nuclear war drills in classrooms "

          No, but I bet at least some of the readers from the UK have seen "Threads" at school, although it's probably limited to those in secondary school in the 80s

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Multiple responsables

            That film is messed up!!!

            1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: Multiple responsables

              You think that's bad, try The War Game, so frightening it wasn't broadcast for 20 years, just as well it's in B&W:

              https://archive.org/details/AV_179-THE_WAR_GAME-_THE_REALITY_OF_NUCLEAR_WAR

        3. khjohansen
          Alert

          Re: Saint Greta ...

          I just can't help but wonder how you feel about immigration ... ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Saint Greta ...

            Keep the dumb white people out!!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Saint Greta ...

              Too late, they're already here

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Multiple responsables

          You leave Saint Greta alone!! She’s a genius and she deserves a massive carbon footprint!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Multiple responsables

            How dare you!

      3. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Multiple responsables

        "It is not something the social media companies are causing on purpose, they just act as a medium giving bad people opportunities to bring harmful content to vulnerable users. People who debase humanity as a whole with their gender non-sense are allowed a broad platform on social media to poison our youth. The same goes with the self defying environmentalists and other elitists, who are horrible downers, conveying messages humanity should disappear, except themselves of course since they think they are better than the plebs."

        This is where the Social Media and MSM companies are all in the same boat, and directly responsable, they thrive on everything that creates controversy.. Trans-issues, Climate Change, Gun Control, Abortions etc The media companies love this stuff as it generates huge eyeball counts... This is in fact where they are directly responsable because they ensure that these kinds os articles make the top of the lists... It only takes a little bit of extra BotWork to ensure that the debates are launched and tempers flare which in turn creates a buzz... Which in turn creates income...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Multiple responsables

        I half-agree. They are certainly acting as a medium for a HUGE amount of harmful content being posted by other people. However, they have not taken any real responsibility for trying to stop this harm from happening; on the contrary, their platforms are specifically designed to be addictive for the purpose of making them money, and filtering out the toxic content would reduce their profits, so they don't.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look...squirrels! ...

    For those unfamiliar with Seattle Public Schools its yet another failed big city public schools system. In the last 25 years despite immense amounts of money spent on it the system has gone from just about functional to totally worthless. Which is why Seattle has the highest percentage of kids going to private schools of any big city in the US. You do not sent your kids to a Seattle Public school if you actually want your kids educated. If you cannot afford private schools you move to the Eastside. Which has good public schools. Mostly

    As usual with these failed big city pubic school systems they employ more administrators than teachers, have some of the highest paid administrators and teachers in the country, spend as little time as possible on relevant classroom tuition, and there has not been a single Virtue Signalling political band wagon they have not jumped on over the last few decades.

    So of course Seattle Public Schools blame the social media companies for the fact that they are an essentially useless bunch of parasites who do little or no actual educating of the kids in their schools. The systems graduation / educational attainment results have declined precipitously over the last few decades. No wonder they were so against WASL/WCAP etc which documented how incompetent they are.

    At any given time there are good teachers in the Seattle public schools. A minority. But you will find that after 5 or 10 years they will have either moved to a private school (where they are paid far less but can actually teach) or have changed career. Private schools having one administrator per four of five teaching staff and the school-head not having to run every decision (big and small) past the school SEA union rep first might have something to do with it.

    Shut the public school system down and start again. It is failing miserably to do what it was set up originally to do. Give all kids in the city of Seattle a good education and a much better chance at getting ahead in life and making the best use of their abilities.

    1. JoeCool Bronze badge

      Re: Look...squirrels! ...

      I downvoted because, thoughtful as your comments are, the story is about a specific social / environment issue.

      But because you have an axe to grind with the source of the lawsuit, ironically enough you pull a "look! Squirrels" comment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Look...squirrels! ... and now the clueless..

        If you had been following the story of the Seattle Public Schools for say, the last 25 odd years, you would know exactly why they filed the law suit. And no one else did. And why now and not five years ago. They are desperately trying to distract from the catastrophic collapse they have suffered the last few years. Its been a non stop crisis the last few years.

        You should read the Seattle Times etc more.

        In fact. It will take me very little digging to find out exactly who in the school board pushed it and the why. These guys

        https://www.seattleschools.org/about/school-board/meet-the-board/

        So yeah, I know exactly why they filed the law suit. And it has exactly zero to with the social media companies and any harm they might do to Seattle public school students. Zero. Based on past performance they dont care a rats ass for the students. More interesting in pursuing their own personal and political agendas. And there are plenty of those.

        The Real World is a long way from the secondary school / high school debating society points of yours and other posters here.

        As for the Facebooks etc of the world. Pure evil. But blaming them for social ills that are endemic to every generations teens, just pure distraction tactics. We had exactly the same sorts of social problems with kids back in the 1960/70/80's etc. Different form, same fundamental problems.

        Nothing really changes. Just who is being scapegoated. Back in my day telly was the root of all societies evil. Every last one of them.

        You might know that if you had kids.

  8. Grogan Silver badge

    U.S. ______ sues _______

    (headline boiler plate lol)

    Typical, whiny crybullies always using the courts to try to push their agendas and punish people for not buying what they are selling. It's not "social media's" fault that kids have nothing to live for but the taunts of their peers online and it's not social media's fault that the education system is so shitty and indoctrinating that exposure to external information and others who don't think that way are a threat to them.

  9. jlturriff

    We won't change what we're doing, but- Oh, look at the neat tools we're giving you!

    '"We want teens to be safe online. We've developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including supervision tools that let parents limit the amount of time their teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences," Antigone Davis, global head of safety at Meta told.'

    Pretty much says it all. This is very much worse than closing the barn door after the horses have left.

  10. American_Joker

    Let’s sue porn sites too for make me ***** too much

    I do have to agree that social media platforms like Tiktok, instagram, and Facebook are the leading cause of a darker future to come. These companies deliberately use their technology as weapons to control, manipulate and dumb down people in general. However the brain is still developing until humans are 24-25 making kids the prime target.

    “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

    Who owns Byte Dance, Google, Meta? Does anyone know what these companies own? Very clear too see what is happening, all you have too do is stop arguing and pointing fingers looking for someone to blame and start working together. The public school system sucks, it is not getting any better, the school unions want to place blame for their laziness, corruption and greed on social media. Just like they did on Covid while slipping the CDC some money.

    So parents stop allowing these school boards to get away with this stuff and start getting involved. Because the truth is parents are just as much to blame because how many use the phones, tablets, laptops and computers as babysitters? I can’t tell you how many kids under the age of 10 are on social media apps absorbing image after image while hypnotic tones are programming their minds. This is happening with adults too weather you want to believe this or not, but it’s happening. TikTok is the worst and now it’s chain reaction is moving along to swiping up and down blasting 8 seconds of emotions not suitable even for an adult mind.

    However we cannot place blame for the negligent responsibility of parenting on social media platforms. That’s the same as placing blame on pornography sites for being a nuisance cause I keep clicking on them instead of doing my work. Answer is simple, be the parent, take the devices away, stop letting people who do not care about your kids tell you what’s best for your kids. I have a child in the Seattle District, Des Moines Elementary, which happens to be one of the top failing schools. I’m also TikTok’s most Banned Content Creator with 88 bans, and not because I am doing anything inappropriate either. Please believe what I say to be true and stop fighting amongst yourselves and start working together. Turn off the apps it’s that simple, and if you don’t believe. Come talk with me and I will show you.

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