Parents from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, have collectively filed a lawsuit against all social media platforms as the youth population faces a severe mental health crisis.
It can be extremely difficult to live in today’s world because of the rapid pace that technology is changing. Bucks County, Pennsylvania’s residents have been waiting for our government to implement oversight and regulations on these social media companies. There has been absolutely no legislation coming out of our government addressing these parents’ concerns; now, they have taken matters into their own hands and filed lawsuits against every social media platform that is in operation today for the damage they are causing the teenagers in their county.
As with all new things, it is challenging to gauge the potential ramifications they may pose because humans have never had to interact with these new communication avenues. It can feel like a new social media platform has been gaining users at an astronomical pace every couple of months. Then you went and downloaded it to check out, but low and behold, there already is another up-and-coming app, and now everyone has moved on.
The lawsuit has been filed in a California Federal Court. It stated “the need is great” for Bucks County to fund their mental health outpatient programs, mobile crisis units, family-based mental health services, and in-school mental health services, which they claim are being overrun by teens needing these programs due to addiction to social media. It’s even more difficult for a parent to keep up with what their children are doing on their phones, and the adverse effects that social media directly causes in teens is now starting to bear their teeth.
According to CNN Business, the lawsuit alleges, “virtually everywhere in the United States now … Bucks County’s youth suffer from a high degree of distraction, depression, suicidality, and other mental disorders, caused or worsened by the overconsumption of social media daily, which substantially interferes with the rights of health and safety common to the general public.” Bucks County joins a growing list of school districts and individual families that have filed lawsuits against individual social media companies.
Social media companies all share the same underlying defense for their platforms: they have strong protections that distribute age-appropriate content. They are all investing heavily in creating a safe experience for teens. They have dedicated features built-in for parental controls that allow you to limit screen time, age verification technology, and blah, blah, blah. Since we adults have already transverse the teenage stage in our lives, we can remember that if our parents had tried to control what we watched or listened to, we would simply find a way to watch it or listen to it anyway.
Sneaking these types of things past your parents wasn’t a difficult task. Parents are always a step or two behind their children in grasping society’s ever-changing landscape. CNN Business quotes Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, “It is no different than opioid manufacturers and distributors causing havoc among young people in our communities.”
This is a very fair assessment of the situation. When oxycontin was introduced as a pain relief medication, the pharmaceutical companies knew it was basically synthetic heroin. It would not have been a far-reaching assumption that users would become dependent on the substance after using it. How many of our youth had to die after becoming addicted to the pills before we started taking them seriously?
The answer was tens of thousands of children’s deaths occurred before any meaningful legislation was passed to mitigate the social media crisis. Weintraub further expounds on the lawsuit by saying, “They said their platforms are not addictive, and they are; they said they are helpful and not harmful, but they are harmful.” He continues to say he hopes that bringing people together to form a collective will hopefully trigger some action on the part of our legislators to do more than just question the leaders of these social media companies.
The hope is they can come up with some clear-cut rules and guidelines. We don’t want to have to bury hundreds of thousands of our youth because we let a platform destroy their mental health. As the song says, children are our future, and we can’t let an entire generation get destroyed by something that ethically should be controlled.