Mar 28, 2024

By Jane Brown

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Four Ontario school boards have launched $4.5 billion in lawsuits against Snapchat, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.

The suits suggest the social media giants are deliberately hurting students, interfering with their learning and harming their mental health, leaving educators to manage the fallout.

Decision makers with the public school boards in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa and the Toronto Catholic board allege the popular social media platforms were designed for compulsive use and have rewired the way children think, behave and learn, and they are calling on the companies to make improvements.

A spokesperson for Snapchat says it was intentionally designed to be different from traditional social media with a focus on helping Snapchatters communicate with their close friends.

Other social media companies have not responded to the allegations.

School boards have had to bring in staff, resources and programming to mitigate the “significant impacts that these addictive platforms are having on our students,” said TDSB Education Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins to the Toronto Star.

Russell-Rawlins said boards have struggled, adding “our students are not fully present” given studies have shown that more than 90 per cent of kids in Grades 7 to 12 use social media daily, and 45 per cent of them for more than five hours which “takes them away from the social relationships that are part of the fabric of their growth and development and socialization.”

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