TORONTOMarch 28, 2024 /CNW/ – TodayToronto District School Board (TDSB), Peel District School Board (PDSB), Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) have commenced legal action against tech giants Meta Platforms Inc. (Facebook and Instagram), Snap Inc. (SnapChat), and ByteDance Ltd. (TikTok) for disrupting student learning and the education system. The lawsuit claims that social media products, negligently designed for compulsive use, have rewired the way children think, behave, and learn, leaving educators and schools to manage the fallout.  

Students are experiencing an attention, learning, and mental health crisis because of prolific and compulsive use of social media products.  The fall out of compulsive use of social media amongst students 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. Collectively, the boards are advancing claims in excess of four billion dollars. This action calls on social media giants to remediate these enormous costs to the education system, to redesign their products to keep students safe.

Neinstein LLP, a Toronto-based boutique litigation firm, has been retained by the aforementioned school boards to represent them in their fight for social media change. The goal of the litigation is to provide school boards with the resources needed to support student programming and services, and to respond to the school-based problems social media giants have caused. School boards will not be responsible for any costs related to the lawsuit unless a successful outcome is reached.

To learn more about the lawsuit and to follow developments, please visit the Schools for Social Media Change Alliance at https://schoolboardsforchange.ca.

Quotes 

“The influence of social media on today’s youth at school cannot be denied. It leads to pervasive problems such as distraction, social withdrawal, cyberbullying, a rapid escalation of aggression, and mental health challenges. Therefore, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure the well-being of our youth. We are calling for measures to be implemented to mitigate these harms and prioritize the mental health and academic success of our future generation.” – Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Director of Education, Toronto District School Board

“There has been growing concern for years about the effect of social media on students’ development, mental health, safety and emotional well-being. Urgent action is needed to protect students from further harm. That is why we have come together in bringing action against social media giants to make their products safer while addressing the disruptions they are causing to our educational mandate.” – Rashmi Swarup, Director of Education, Peel District School Board

“Fostering a nurturing environment of learning is critical to student success and stands at the heart of our educational mission. Yet, the intricately crafted and inherently addictive nature of social media platforms can hamper a students’ capacity to absorb knowledge. Social media has an undeniable toll on student mental health which cannot be overlooked. In the absence of effective measures from the architects of these digital platforms, our educators find themselves increasingly involved in mitigating social media-induced matters, diverting precious time away from academic instruction.” – Brendan Browne, Director of Education, Toronto Catholic District School Board

“As the largest school board in Eastern Ontario, we are committed to the well-being of our students. The crisis caused by social media giants is putting children and youths at risk. Our students, society’s next generation of leaders, deserve better.”  – Pino Buffone, Director of Education, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

“A strong education system is the foundation of our society and our community. Social media products and the changes in behaviour, judgement and attention that they cause pose a threat to that system and to the student population our schools serve.  We are proud to support our schools and students in this litigation with the goal of holding social media giants accountable and creating meaningful change.” – Duncan Embury, Partner, Head of Litigation, Neinstein 

About Schools for Social Media Change

Schools for Social Media Change is a concerned group of school boards, Canadian leaders and organizations working together to strengthen our students’ fundamental right to education. Social media products, designed for compulsive use, have rewired the way children think, behave, and learn.  Our schools are unfairly bearing the brunt of the learning and mental health epidemic caused by the negligent conduct of social media companies. The school boards listed on schoolsboardsforchange.ca have commenced legal action against social media giants for this disruption to student learning and the education system. 

SOURCE Schools for Social Media Change

For further information: For media inquiries: Alicia Oliveri, alicia@headsandtales.ca, (416) 717-6160