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Coronado, Oceanside school districts join suit against social media companies

The Coronado and Oceanside Unified school districts have filed lawsuits against a group of social media companies, including Meta which owns Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, Snap Chat, and YouTube.

The local districts are joining 19 others from across the country that claims social media is harming the mental health of young people.

The lawsuits filed this week in federal court in San Francisco alleging the companies' platforms are designed to be addictive and are contributing to an escalating mental health crisis among adolescents.

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The complaints filed this week continue a trend of school districts filing suit against social media giants, with the first such litigation believed to be a complaint filed in January by Seattle Public Schools.

Both complaints allege in identical language that "the increased use of and dependency on social media has led to an increase in the number of Plaintiff's students in crisis, acting out, vandalizing school property and in need of mental health services."

Miguel Sanchez brought his grandchildren to Coronado Tidelands Park, Thursday, as they enjoy spring break. His twin grandsons and granddaughter enjoy playing outside. They also enjoy their cell phones and playing on social media,
like most of their classmates.

His 10 year-old granddaughter, Jewel Hernandez said, “We can have social media to make more friends. Usually, that’s where you find more friends and build communication.”

“I use TikTok sometimes for learning and sometimes for fun.” added 9 year-old Emilio Hernandez.

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But Sanchez said he is aware of the danger his grandchildren can face online.

"(social media) is really good and it can be very bad," Sanchez said. "There are perverted people out there who use it to hurt children."

James Frantz, an attorney representing Coronado and Oceanside Unified, and the other school districts that filed suit this week, said at a press conference, "We don’t want these little algorithms trying to get you addicted when you don’t know you’re being addicted. So, we’re going to try to prevent that. That is the key to this whole case.”

The 107-page lawsuit lists evidence of mental health harms suffered by children using social media for hours every day.

"We allege that Meta, TikTok, Snap, YouTube, and other social media companies have engaged in reckless and negligent misconduct that has caused a mental health crisis among our youth. Social media companies are and have been well aware of the harm they cause," Frantz said.

James P. Frantz (at podium), leads a team of attorneys who have filed a lawsuit against some of the largest social media companies in the world, San Diego, Calif., April 13, 2023.
M.G. Perez
/
KPBS
James P. Frantz (at podium), leads a team of attorneys who have filed a lawsuit against some of the largest social media companies in the world, San Diego, Calif., April 13, 2023.

"It must stop, and we will fight to hold these social media companies accountable for choosing profit over the mental health and safety of children and their families," Frantz said.

A news release from the Frantz Law Group states the litigation seeks to provide the funding and resources needed to mitigate the damage that school districts are currently experiencing.

This is the place to find news, information and resources to help you make decisions about the children under your care and support you in this adventure we call "parenting."