Seattle: Awareness Flickering… Maybe?

January 17, 2023

Generation Z is the first age of humans completely raised with social media. They are also growing up during a historic mental health crisis. Educators and medical professionals believe there is a link between the rising mental health crisis and social media. While studies are not 100% conclusive, there is a correlation between the two. The Seattle Times shares a story about how Seattle public schools think the same: “Seattle Schools Sues Social Media Firms Over Youth Mental Health Crisis.”

Seattle schools files a ninety-page lawsuit that asserts social media companies purposely designed, marketed, and operate their platforms for optimum engagement with kids so they can earn profits. The lawsuit claims that the companies cause mental and health disorders, such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and cyber bullying. Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) lawsuit states the company violated the Washington public nuisance law and should be penalized.

SPS argues that due to the increased mental and physical health disorders, they have been forced to divert resources and spend funds on counselors, teacher training in mental health issues, and educating kids on dangers related to social media. SPS wants the tech companies to be held responsible and help treat the crisis:

“ ‘Our students — and young people everywhere — face unprecedented learning and life struggles that are amplified by the negative impacts of increased screen time, unfiltered content, and potentially addictive properties of social media,’ said SPS Superintendent Brent Jones in the release. ‘We are confident and hopeful that this lawsuit is the first step toward reversing this trend for our students, children throughout Washington state, and the entire country.’”

Tech insiders have reported that social media companies are aware of the dangers their platforms pose to kids, but are not too concerned. The tech companies argue they have tools to help adults limit kids’ screen time. Who is usually savvier with tech though, kids or adults?

The rising mental health crisis is also caused by two additional factors:

  1. Social media induces mass hysteria in kids, because it is literally a digital crowd. Humans are like sheep they follow crowds.
  2. Mental health diagnoses are more accurate, because the science has improved. More kids are being diagnosed because the experts know more.

Social media is only part of the problem. Tech companies, however, should be held accountable because they are knowingly contributing to the problem. And Seattle? Flicker, flicker candle of awareness.

Whitney Grace, January 17, 2023


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