LEXINGTON, Va. – Rockbridge County school leaders are taking legal action against popular social media sites, with plans to join a lawsuit alongside over 400 school divisions nationwide.
The platforms include Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat.
“It’s a widespread suit that’s going to be class action across the nation and the Commonwealth as well,” Superintendent Dr. Phillip Thompson said. “To my knowledge, we are one of the first ones to hop on board here in Virginia.”
Dr. Thompson said it’s no secret students across the country are addicted to scrolling.
“We certainly see the effects of that in our school division,” Dr. Thompson said. “The school board felt like that they wanted to be a part of trying to correct that.”
Rockbridge County school counselor Michelle Kirby said her office stays very busy.
“I’ve had students come to me in tears,” Kirby said. “Upset over things that were said or things that were posted and things that won’t go away and are struggling very much so to deal with that.”
The year before last, a survey recorded 17% of Rockbridge County students saying they’ve had thoughts or feelings of hurting themselves or death by suicide. To make it more devastating, mental health resources are lacking.
“Everybody is just full,” Kirby said. “When you have somebody that’s struggling and finally admits that they need help and then you go to provide those services for them and they have to wait six or eight months to somebody it’s heartbreaking.”
The lawsuit could be a step in the right direction, as it requests damages, and money to aid schools with managing the negative mental health effects of social media.
“Ultimately, we hope that the social media companies change their behavior, some of the algorithms, and the way in which they produce their applications,” Dr. Thompson said.