Social media addiction: boy hiding under the blanket at night using his cell phone

NEWS RELEASE


(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia)—“I know that I speak for all members of the School Board of Albemarle County when I say that we are concerned about our students’ use of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and others,” Dr. Rebecca Berlin, White Hall District representative, said at Thursday night’s meeting.

Berlin continued, presenting concerns about the platforms’ deceptive practices to attract and addict students to gather personal data that is often sold to third parties and the detrimental effects to student mental health from the habitual use of these platforms.

“We are incurring substantial costs—not only in dollars, but in our most important assets: our children—to assist and support our students who are suffering from social media-inflicted injuries to their mental health,” Berlin said.

The motion presented and unanimously approved at the March 28 meeting directs School Division Counsel Josiah Black to engage outside litigation counsel and join the lawsuit on behalf of Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS). The suit, filed in early October, alleges that social media platforms fail to adequately warn users about the mental health risks associated with their use, including addition, suicidal ideation, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

“As a parent of two children, each navigating the complexities of social media, I carry a personal responsibility to champion the rights of these young children and their families,” Tom Cartmell, partner at Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP and leader of several committees established as part of this suit, told PR Newswire in December. “These corporate giants were well aware of the harm they were inflicting, yet persisted in their pursuits, at times exacerbating issues that resulted in personal injuries for these vulnerable children.”

Entering this litigation would give ACPS the opportunity for financial recovery of funds that have been funneled into the mental health care of our students if the defending parties are found liable. It would also give ACPS the opportunity to obtain future damages to fund initiatives to help support student mental health issues caused by social media.

“We may recover some damages on behalf of ACPS, but that is not really the primary goal. The most important goals are forcing these companies to change their deceptive practices and showing our students and their families that we are concerned about their well-being and will do what is necessary to support them in any way we can,” Black said. “As a school division, we have a responsibility to stand up for our students and their families, and joining this lawsuit is one way we can do just that,” he added.

Black will oversee the involvement of ACPS in this suit and be the point person for the division’s participation in this effort.


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