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SC school districts join class action lawsuit against different social media companies

CLOVER, S.C. — Leaders from several school districts in South Carolina are joining a class action lawsuit against different social media companies like Snapchat and TikTok, saying that the platforms are causing mental health issues for students.

Clover High School Principal Rod Ruth brought the class action lawsuit to the attention of the school board on Monday night, according to our partners at the Rock Hill Herald. The district’s participation in the suit was approved based on the impact social media can have on the mental health of students.

A spokesperson for the Fort Mill school district told Channel 9′s Tina Terry that the lawsuit isn’t so much about the money, but it’s about forcing big companies to take steps to protect children.

Lily S ander, a freshman at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, said that social media platforms can have an impact on young minds.

“There are things like face tune where they can change the shape of their bodies and put a lot of makeup on,” Sander said. “So it’s hard seeing the perfect image of someone without seeing all the outtakes of knowing how they really look. It makes you feel like, ‘Wow, should I look like that?’ or ‘Is there something wrong with me?’”

The social media case lists four defendants: Facebook and Instagram owner Meta, ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, and Snap, the parent company of Snapchat. The Herald reports that the other defendant is Google, which owns YouTube.

Sander says she applauds the two school districts for joining the lawsuit.

“I think it is great that our district is committed to holding these companies accountable for the impact that they’re having on children,” Sander said.

Fort Mill Schools spokesperson Joe Burke told Terry that the sites are impacting children as young as eight years old, leading to self-image issues and addiction.

“We’ve seen cases of bullying rise exponentially and a lot are taking place on social media,” Burke told Terry. “We’ve seen students who need help with body issues, gender identity issues.”

Burke says that partly in response to the issues created by social media, Fort Mill Schools has added eight new mental health counselors in just the last four years.

“We hope to see some change in the way social media is marketed to kids and the way they monitor how young kids are,” Burke said.

Officials with Fort Mill Schools say the attorneys behind the lawsuit reached out to the district. It’s the same firm involved in the class action lawsuit against Juul that settled earlier this year -- Fort Mill Schools could receive about $380,000 from that settlement.

(WATCH BELOW: York County Sheriff’s Office responds to lawsuit)

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