Bay District School Board joins lawsuit against many social media platforms

Bay District Schools Meeting
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 10:43 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay District Schools is the first in the state to join a lawsuit taking aim at some popular social media platforms.

They said the platforms are hurting local students’ mental health. Monday the Bay District School Board approved the plans to join the lawsuit with other school districts across the country.

The lawsuit involves social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tik Tok and Youtube. The school board claims these apps are hindering students’ education.

This all came to light because school board attorney Franklin Harrison said the superintendent came to him because he saw an article about the litigation in Seattle against social media companies. He told Harrison this is a very bad problem we have in our schools, and asked can we do something about it.

Harrison did research and contacted some lawyers. School board officials claim the social media platforms are causing multiple mental health issues and impacting education.

“It’s (the lawsuit) protecting their mental health but it’s also getting them in a position so they can learn, and they can do better, said Franklin Harrison the school board attorney. “It affects the teachers, administrators, everybody that has to deal with this problem, and if we can just make it better.”

Harrison said he sees the problems in the local school system and said social media companies must be held accountable for impacting students learning and concentration.

“It also affects them showing up for school it affects whether or not they’re able to concentrate or they’re waiting for the next let me pull my phone out and see what I can do on tik tok or one of the others and you know we just have to stop that,” said Harrison.

Harrison says the kids lack of concentration on school work also affects the teachers and administration. During the meeting, they had an attorney call in from one of the law firms working on this litigation.

Harrison said many schools across the country are seeing mental health impacts from social media platforms.

“Report after report after report of mental health needs that school districts would have to bring in to help kids who are just constantly on their phones. There are disciplinary issues that are occurring, there are kids who are not learning as much as they should,” said Davis Vaughn, an attorney at Beasley Allen. “They’re distracted. Sometimes kids aren’t even coming to school due to mental health associated with social media.”

Vaughn said the litigation would be a public nuisance claim allegedly saying schools have spent time and energy combating the mental health crisis caused by the addiction to social media.

This litigation will take some time, lawyers said it could take two to four years before any settlements are reached and before any compensation would be given out. That is if they win the lawsuit.