Watchung Hills Regional High School District has filed a lawsuit in United States District Court against Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook), Instagram, YouTube, Snap, TikTok and ByteDance, alleging that its businesses exploit minor users’ undeveloped decision-making capacity, impulse control, emotional immaturity and poor psychological resiliency, according to a news release.
The district notes that it has seen a steady rise in the mental health struggles of its students over the last decade – and it believes social media is a substantial factor causing this crisis. It alleges that the defendants engage in exploitive practices despite their awareness that minors are much more likely to sustain serious psychological harm through social media use than adults.
WHRHS also notes that it has been forced to spend increasing resources in an effort to address the mental health needs of WHRHS’s students at all grade levels. The district has observed rising rates of depression, anxiety and suicide ideation among students. WHRHS expenditures in this area are not sustainable and divert resources from classroom instruction and other programs. In short, the defendants’ exploitative practices have impacted WHRHS’s ability to carry out its core mission of providing an education, the district states.
“By virtue of this lawsuit, WHRHS seeks to do two things. First, it seeks to hold defendants responsible for the harm caused by their conduct. Second, it seeks to force defendants to introduce simple, common-sense protections for school age children that will provide benefits going forward,” according to the news release.
WHRHS is represented by Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Brody & Agnello, P.C. – a law firm known for multidistrict mass torts and class actions in both state and federal court – on a contingency basis. As such, there is no cost to taxpayers. Attorneys are compensated if there is a recovery in the case at no cost to WHRHS.