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Just In: New York City sues TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms over youth mental health crisis

Just In: New York City sues TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms over youth mental health crisis


Just In: New York City sues TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms over youth mental health crisis



New York City, its schools, and public hospital system have announced a lawsuit against the tech giants that run Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube, blaming their “addictive and dangerous” social media platforms for fueling a childhood mental health crisis that is disrupting learning and draining resources.

 



The lawsuit is filed in the California Superior Court, stating the social applications are purposefully designed to be addictive to children and teenagers. The suit follows the Health Commissioner’s Advisory that DOHMH Commissioner Dr Vasan issued last month, citing the continued use of social media as a public hazard. The advisory calls for parents, healthcare providers, and more to take action.




“Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis,” said Mayor Adams in a press statement.

 




“Our city is built on innovation and technology, but many social media platforms end up endangering our children’s mental health, promoting addiction, and encouraging unsafe behaviour.

 




“Today, we’re taking bold action on behalf of millions of New Yorkers to hold these companies accountable for their role in this crisis, and we’re building on our work to address this public health hazard. This lawsuit and action plan are part of a larger reckoning that will shape the lives of our young people, our city, and our society for years to come.”





NYC H+H Chief of Behavioral Health and Co-Deputy Chief Medical Officer Omar Fattal, MD, MPH added, “We must maximize our efforts to support the mental health needs of children and adolescents by providing families with tools and resources that foster healthy development. This includes robustly addressing the negative impact of social media on the mental health of children and adolescents. We join the mayor and DOHMH in encouraging all young people and their families to consider their use of social media and how it may be negatively affecting them.”

 




The country’s largest school district, with about 1 million students, has had to respond to disruptions in and out of the classroom, provide counselling for anxiety and depression, and develop curricula about the effects of social media and how to stay safe online, according to the filing.

 




The city spends more than $100 million on youth mental health programs and services each year, Mayor Eric Adams’ office said.

 




“Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis,” Adams said.

 




The legal action is the latest of numerous lawsuits filed by states, school districts, and others claiming social media companies exploit children and adolescents by deliberating designing features that keep them endlessly scrolling and checking their accounts.

 



Teenagers know they spend too much time on social media but are powerless to stop, according to the new lawsuit, filed by the city of New York, its Department of Education, and New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., the country’s largest public hospital system.

 




The lawsuit seeks to have the companies’ conduct declared a public nuisance to be abated, as well as unspecified monetary damages.

 




In responses to the filing, the tech companies said they have and continue to develop and implement policies and controls that emphasize user safety.

 




“The allegations in this complaint are simply not true,” said JosĂ© Castañeda, a spokesman for YouTube parent Google, who said by email that the company has collaborated with youth, mental health, and parenting experts.


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