Four Canadian Schools Sue Instagram, TikTok

Four of Canada’s largest school boards have launched lawsuits accusing social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok of disrupting student learning.

The schools made this statement on Thursday.

The Toronto District School Board accused the companies of having “negligently designed and marketed addictive products” that are “rewiring the way that (students) think, act, behave and learn.

”It cited significant problems with student attention and focus. Educators also lamented that social media use has led to students’ social withdrawal and increased cyberbullying and aggressive behaviors.

“Students are experiencing an attention, learning and mental health crisis because of prolific and compulsive use of social media products,” the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said in a statement.

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This “is causing massive strains on the four school boards’ finite resources, including additional needs for in-school mental health programming and personnel, increased IT costs and additional administrative resources,” it said.

The three Toronto boards and one in Ottawa filed separate statements of claim with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice seeking at least Canada $4 billion (US$3 billion) from the companies behind the popular apps namely Meta, Snap and ByteDance.

The lawsuits in Canada is however coming a day after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law restricting social media access for minors under 16 on Monday, in part citing increasing concerns over the platforms’ effects on teen mental health.

But the law has also sparked worry that it sets a dangerous precedent for restricting free speech online.