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San Mateo Co. school board sues social media companies over mental health crisis

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March 15, 2023

SAN MATEO, Calif. – The San Mateo County Board of Education and its superintendent are suing some of the biggest names in social media.

The lawsuit claims TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and others create a “destructive environment for children,”  leaving parents and educators to deal with a growing crisis in childhood mental health. 

The suit alleges that the crisis has been made worse by artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

The companies have not commented but Google has said previously it has invested heavily in protections for children.

The suit was filed by the Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy firm on Tuesday. 

“Just as we had ‘Big Tobacco,’ we now have ‘Big Tech’ exploiting children – one need only follow the tech lobby’s swift and forceful attacks on recent efforts by our California Legislature to put in place common sense rules to address the tracking and profiling of users under the age of 18,” attorney Joe Cotchett said in a statement. 

San Mateo County Superintendent Nancy Magee said there is hard science behind the claim that social media is fueling a mental health epidemic in school-age children.

“Every day schools are dealing with the fallout, which includes distracted students, increased absences, more children diagnosed with ADHD, cyber-bullying that carries into the classroom, and even physical damage” to the school campuses, Magee said in a statement. 

She pointed to the vandalism in the bathrooms at Aragon High caused by the TikTok so-called “Devious Lick Challenge” at the start of the school year.

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