Arizona school districts suing social media companies over mental health concerns

School districts are suing social media companies like TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, saying the platforms contribute to the teen mental health crisis.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 6:18 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - For Riana Alexander, advocating for mental health is personal. The 18-year-old said she felt isolated in high school and that social media contributed to her anxiety and depression. “When you are struggling, and you see everyone having these really happy lives and everything, it doesn’t really help,” said Alexander.

It is an issue impacting schools across the country, and districts said social media companies should be held responsible for the mental health crisis among teens. Hundreds of school districts across the country, including at least 10 in Arizona, are suing tech giants like Snapchat, Meta, TikTok and YouTube. “It would be irresponsible to not look at social media as one of the number one threats,” said attorney Joseph Tann.

Tann is representing six Arizona school districts, including Mesa Public Schools, the largest school district in the state. He claims the platforms are knowingly targeting and exploiting kids. “As time has gone on, the algorithm, specifically, have gotten stronger and stronger. It caused more harmful, sensational content that directly leads to students missing class, to anxiety and depression and overall diminished environment to learn in,” said Tann.

Tann said the complaints are not about shutting down social media apps; rather, they are asking for better protections for teens and more money for districts to address the issue. “We are thinking that these companies who have profited billions, billions of dollars, should be responsible for contributing to the solution, not just the harm,” said Tann.

Social media companies have filed a motion to dismiss the complaints under the First Amendment and Section 230, an internet law that prevents tech companies from being held liable for what is posted on their platforms.

Meanwhile, Alexander just graduated from Chandler High School and is now in a better place. She said getting reconnected with friends and family helped her heal. “What really helped me was getting back outside, getting back to talking with my friends, getting a sense of purpose, and you get that from community,” said Alexander.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.