Schools take their social media gripes to court

The fight to get kids to stop scrolling on TikTok has gone from the classroom to the court. 

What happened: Four of Canada’s largest school boards have filed $4.5 billion worth of lawsuits against the owners of Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook and Instagram, accusing them of deliberately harming students and interfering with their ability to learn. 

  • The school boards in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa say that their resources have been strained from dealing with the added mental health and behavioural problems driven by social media platforms.

  • While these cases may be the first in Canada, roughly 500 U.S. school districts have similar arguments currently playing out in the courts.

Why it matters: Kids are scrolling more than ever, with 91% of Canadian students in Grades 7 to 12 checking in on social media daily and about a third spending five or more hours on it every day. With that comes more cyberbullying, mental health problems, and an inability to focus.

  • Experts say the need for constant brain stimulation that social media has fostered has led to a lack of focus on tasks that require a long period of attention, like exams.

  • Research also suggests that shorter attention spans can have negative effects not just in the classroom, but in the workplace and in social relationships too.

Zoom out: Citing similar mental health concerns, the (usually pretty lawless) state of Florida passed a bill this week banning anyone under 14 from having a social media account, a law that’s seen as one of the most restrictive social media bans ever issued.—LA