Livingston Parish School Board Sues TikTok, Instagram Over Teen Mental Health Crisis
LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (KPEL News) - The mental health crisis in America has made a lot of headlines in recent months, but one of the most troubling trends is the growing crisis among teens.
Now, a Louisiana school system is taking action against the social media apps they believe are the problem.
It's gotten so bad that the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association have declared it a national emergency.
Rates of childhood mental health concerns and suicide rose steadily between 2010 and 2020 and by 2018 suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. The pandemic has intensified this crisis: across the country we have witnessed dramatic increases in Emergency Department visits for all mental health emergencies including suspected suicide attempts.
But school officials in Livingston Parish say that the cause of this crisis comes from the business practices of TikTok and Instagram, and they've filed a lawsuit against parent companies ByteDance and Meta.
Via The Advocate:
Originally filed in the 21st Judicial District Court located in Livingston in mid-July, last week the case was transferred to federal court. The school board is represented by the law firm Fayard & Honeycutt.
In addition to TikTok and Instagram — along with their parent companies ByteDance and Meta — the board is also suing two internet service providers, alleging they are responsible for "facilitating minors' access" to the social media platforms.
“This action is brought to protect children and families in the State of Louisiana from Defendants' intentional manipulation of children via sophisticated design elements deployed on Instagram and TikTok," the lawsuit says. "Defendants do this to keep Louisiana children addicted to their social media platforms."
The school board has asked the court to prevent the companies from “engaging in the conduct” that they say has negatively impacted their students. It is also seeking monetary recompense to fund preventative education for excessive social media use, along with seeking other damages.
Livingston Parish isn't the only district suing social media companies. Around the country, several school systems recognize the problem of growing teen dependence on social media apps.
"Children and adolescents who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media face double the risk of mental health problems including experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says. "This is concerning as a recent survey showed that teenagers spend an average of 3.5 hours a day on social media. And when asked about the impact of social media on their body image, 46% of adolescents aged 13-17 said social media makes them feel worse."