Elgin U-46 joins lawsuit targeting social media companies for harming youth

Elgin Area School District U-46 is joining a national lawsuit charging social media companies have harmed students.

More than 300 school districts across 11 states have joined the lawsuit against social media giants like Meta, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. The lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in California.

"We believe that joining this lawsuit will serve the students and school community at large," said Erika Washington, assistant counsel for U-46.

School board members unanimously approved a resolution to join the lawsuit and to work with Frantz Law Group, a Chicago firm involved in the case. Joining the lawsuit costs the district nothing, she said, adding that the attorneys handling the case receive fees only if there is a monetary award.

According to the resolution approved Monday, school officials argue that social media has increased the risk for anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies among students. The resolution also notes the district has expended staff time to deal with disciplinary matters, counseling and medical services to address concerns arising from social media.

Even if the district does not receive any funds from a settlement, Washington said she hopes the lawsuit spurs change in social media companies.

"Research shows that social media has caused various social emotional issues for youth," Washington said.

School officials noted that social media often serves as a platform for students to bully others or post threats of violence against schools.

Washington said she is hopeful the lawsuit would spur changes regarding "engagement with youth so it's not harmful or exacerbates social and emotional issues for youth of all ages."

The lawsuit is similar to an action brought by school districts against Juul. In that lawsuit, school districts argued the makers of e-cigarettes targeted young customers and caused them harm.

Earlier this year, Juul agreed to pay more than $400 million to settle thousands of lawsuits. Illinois was awarded more than $67 million, with about $1.2 million going to U-46 over four years.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.