Canadian schools sue social media giants over alleged harm to children

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Five Ontario school boards along with two private schools have joined lawsuits that claim that social media platforms are detrimental to students’ mental health and learning capabilities. The legal actions allege that the addictive nature of these platforms has not only hindered educational environments but necessitated costly interventions by schools to address associated behavioral and psychological issues.

This collective legal effort seeks over $7 billion in damages, underscoring the severity of the alleged impacts. The plaintiffs argue that social media companies’ designs foster addiction, leading to significant disruptions in classrooms across the region. This lawsuit follows initial claims made by other major districts, highlighting a growing concern over the influence of digital platforms on youth.

The defendants, including well-known entities such as Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Snap (Snapchat) and Bytedance (TikTok). They accuse these organizations of engineering their products to be compulsively used by young users. These cases add to hundreds of similar cases from school boards and some states in the US and increasing global concerns about the effects of persistent social media engagement on youth mental health and societal norms.

Legal representatives from the school boards emphasize challenge posed by these platforms, affecting diverse communities across both urban and rural settings.

In addition to the lawsuits, schools are increasingly restricting the potential use of these platforms during the school day, and while an earlier ban on cell phones was not successful, they cracking down on the use of cell phones at school.

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