YORK COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Four school districts in York County said they’ve been having issues with the student’s social media presence across platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Clover, Fort Mill, York District 1, and Rock Hill have all confirmed their addition to a social media class action lawsuit in hopes of reducing the mental health crisis among children.
“Scientific literature has concluded that the addictive nature of social media platforms has contributed to some of the issues you see listed on the screen here,” said Clover High School Principal Rod Ruth.
He presented a slide show explaining the lawsuit and why the district should join.
Studies show anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, and eating disorders are plaguing young teens. Researchers link the issues to social media.
“Some of the damages include calls for hiring additional personnel to address mental health. The resource allocation to address mental, emotional, and social health. The training and professional development for staff to address students experiencing a crisis. The lesson plans are geared toward addressing the dangers of social media and property damage to schools,” Ruth said.
He requested the district join the lawsuit in hopes of mitigating the mental health issues on social media platforms.
“The intersection point with educational institutions is the fact that districts are often on the front line with this impact and schools must now divert resources in order to address these concerns,” Ruth said.
Socialmediavictims.org reports the rate of teen suicide has risen dramatically over the past decade, while social media use has also increased among teens.
The CDC said the suicide rate for male teens rose 31 percent between 2007 and 2015.
For female teens, those rates hit a 40-year high in 2015.
Fort Mill school district representative Joseph Burke said the main reason for joining the lawsuit was hoping for positive outcomes.
“We deal with threats through social media. We deal with sometimes these challenges that caused disruptions or destruction of school property. There are a lot of issues like bullying and gender issues and body issues that come from social media,” Burke said. “We deal every year with bullying and a lot of that does take place on social media. In recent years like those challenges happened, there was the bathroom challenge a few years ago where students caused damage to bathrooms in the district. So that’s a financial cost. There was the recent swatting of schools which was a social media issue that caused a lot of issues in schools as far as safety.”
The Fort Mill School District attorney said some students are too young to operate the platforms based on the companies’ policies anyway.
Burke said they’re hoping that positive changes come from the lawsuit that will help students understand social media as well as help districts restore mental health resources.
The defendants in the lawsuit target the parent companies of the social media platforms Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Bytedance (TikTok), Snap (Snapchat), and Google (Youtube).