Prince George’s joins other school districts in Maryland and nationwide seeking accountability for addictive social media products harming students, straining resources
UPPER MARLBORO, MD – Prince George’s County Public Schools, one of the 20 largest school districts in the country, today filed a lawsuit against social media companies Meta, Google, ByteDance, and Snap Inc. alleging that their addictive products are exacerbating the youth mental health crisis for its student body. Rising social media use has caused an alarming increase in student mental health challenges and placed a significant burden on the school system to provide adequate and essential mental health resources for its more than 131,000 students.
Prince George’s County joins school districts nationwide in alleging that defendants’ social media products are intentionally designed to target and addict children. The algorithms driving these platforms are designed to manipulate users, especially young people, into falling down “rabbit holes” so that they stay on the apps for as long as possible. The dangerous design of these products is a substantial factor in the increase in disordered eating, depression, and suicidal ideations among teens.
The school district alleges these companies prioritize profit over the safety and well-being of children through their advertising-based business models, despite being aware of the detrimental effects. The defendants promote their platforms – Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok – to children and make huge profits from doing so, leaving schools and parents to deal with the fallout.
Due to the ongoing addiction crisis, the Prince George’s County school system is confronted with the task of providing adequate mental health resources to its students. As a result, funds that should be directed towards vital educational resources have been redirected to combat the harmful effects of social media. Through this lawsuit, the Board aims to bring about much-needed change in how these platforms exploit children and seeks financial support to address this crisis rather than having to use taxpayer funds.
“Our primary goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of our children, allowing them to learn and receive the highest quality education possible,” said Judy Mickens-Murray, the school board Chair. “Unfortunately, students in our district and throughout the nation are confronting unparalleled mental health and learning challenges caused by their addiction to social media, intensified by detrimental algorithms and features. It is imperative that these companies take responsibility for their role in this crisis affecting our youth.”
The Prince George’s County Public Schools are represented in the lawsuit by Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea of Baltimore and Delaware, Shadoan, Michael & Wells of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Co-Lead Counsel in the nationwide Multi-District Litigation against these companies. The firms work on a contingency basis, meaning there will be no cost to taxpayers.
“School systems nationwide, including Prince George’s County, face the challenge of meeting student needs while delivering exceptional education and fostering a positive learning atmosphere,” said Dennis Whitley, III, an attorney representing the school board. “Through this lawsuit, it is our hope to hold social media companies responsible for their role in the youth mental health crisis and to compensate Prince George’s County School District for the financial burden they have faced because of these defendants’ exploitative platforms.”
For more information, please contact Erica DeStefano at erica (at) rebuttalpr.com.