Seven More Ontario Schools and Boards Join Lawsuit Against Meta, Snapchat, and TikTok

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Meta

Thunder Bay – Tech – The impact of endless scrolling on social media is increasingly apparent in our society. Grocery shopping is to see people more focused on their phones than on the groceries. Walk down a street and you are sure to see someone strolling head down and oblivious to the world around them as they look at their screens.

It is an issue that teachers are finding in schools as screen addiction becomes an increasingly problem for students, and for teachers as well.

Seven additional schools and boards have joined a lawsuit against tech giants Meta, Snapchat, and TikTok for disrupting student learning and the education system.

These new plaintiffs include public and Catholic school boards, adding to the initial four Ontario school boards that launched the suit in March. The lawsuits allege that social media products, intentionally designed for compulsive use, have fundamentally altered children’s thinking, behavior, and learning, leaving educators to manage the fallout.

New Plaintiffs

The newly joined schools and boards are:

  • Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB)
  • York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB)
  • Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB)
  • Ottawa Catholic District School Board (OCSB)
  • District School Board of Niagara (DSBN)
  • Holy Name of Mary College School
  • Eitz Chaim

This diverse group represents public, Catholic, and private schools from both urban and rural regions of Ontario, underscoring that this issue affects students from various cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds.

The addictive nature of social media has compromised students’ ability to learn, disrupted classrooms, and led to increasing mental health problems. Consequently, school boards have had to divert significant resources to address these challenges.

Legal Actions and Goals

The lawsuit, spearheaded by Toronto-based boutique litigation firm Neinstein LLP, demands that social media companies redesign their products to safeguard students. The aim is to reduce mental health harms and educational disruptions. The lawsuit also seeks compensation for the resources school boards have expended to mitigate the crisis caused by social media.

While device use in schools is part of the issue, the problem is multifaceted. The lawsuit addresses compulsive social media use during and outside school hours, which continues to permeate the education system and impact student well-being.

Quotes from School Leaders

  • Carrie Hughes-Grant, Head of School, Holy Name of Mary College School: “The addictive properties of social media products are a universal issue, affecting all students regardless of background. Schools must unite to ensure students are prepared for the future, free from the mental health harms caused by these platforms.”
  • Rabbi Mordechai Loiterman, Head of School, Eitz Chaim: “Implementing a cell phone ban was only the beginning. The root problem is the design of social media products. Restricting device use in school addresses part of the issue, but compulsive use outside the classroom continues to affect student learning.”
  • Kelly Pisek, Director of Education, District School Board of Niagara: “Social media’s addictive nature has compromised student learning and mental health, requiring school staff to spend more time addressing significant attention and focus issues.”
  • Wes Hahn, Trillium Lakelands District School Board: “This is a critical issue affecting student well-being. We are taking multiple approaches to address compulsive social media use and its impact on learning.”
  • Marianne Mazzorato, Director of Education, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board: “Our board believes in the power of a great Catholic education. However, social media products are disrupting this, which is why we joined this lawsuit to restore academic success for our students.”
  • Thomas D’Amico, Director of Education, Ottawa Catholic District School Board: “We aim to equip our students for the future, but social media impedes their focus and development. We advocate for safer social media environments for our students.”
  • Elizabeth Crowe, Chair of the Board, York Catholic District School Board: “We join school boards across Ontario to highlight the harms social media has caused to students’ mental health and learning. We call for these platforms to prioritize children’s safety and well-being.”
  • Duncan Embury, Partner, Head of Litigation, Neinstein LLP: “The addition of these boards to the lawsuit demonstrates the widespread impact of social media on the education system. We aim to hold these tech giants accountable and make meaningful changes for future leaders.”

For more information and to follow developments, visit the Schools for Social Media Change Alliance at https://schoolboardsforchange.ca.

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