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New Jersey school districts join lawsuit claiming social media is harming students

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a report released by the United States surgeon general that states social media can be harmful to children’s mental health and well-being.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

Jun 7, 2023, 2:23 AM

Updated 373 days ago

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The Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District is joining other New Jersey schools in a federal lawsuit against social media companies for allegedly predatory conduct.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a report released by the United States surgeon general that states social media can be harmful to children’s mental health and well-being.
Matawan-Aberdeen school officials say that they have seen an increase in mental health concerns. They say that they want accountability from social media companies.
“We are on the front lines. We want to protect our children,” says Annette Ascoli, president of the Matawan-Aberdeen School Board. “I think it’s also important to say we want to educate. It’s not just about going after the social media companies.”
The lawsuit is an attempt to address the rising rates of mental health struggles for students, calling it a severe public health crisis affecting children across the nation.
Earlier this year, 14-year-old Adriana Kuch from Central Regional High School died by suicide just a day after a video of her getting attacked and bullied by other students went viral.
In a report released late last month by the United States Surgeon General, research shows that kids who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of having poor mental health outcomes.
Matawan-Aberdeen school officials say they have had to increase resources to address a mental health crisis in the district.
“The amount of threat assessments we’re doing now is exponentially greater, when it is involving social media,” says Superintendent Dr. Joseph Majka. “It’s becoming an issue. Social media companies need to be part of that solution, a part of that educational piece to make it safe for everyone to use.”
Other New Jersey school districts that have signed on to the lawsuit include the Chatham School District and the Watchung Hills Regional School District.


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