The Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) has joined a lawsuit against social media giants, Meta, responsible for Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, citing disruptions to student education.

On June 11, there was a talk on youth mental health at the Haliburton Legion – specifically on how social media is impacting young people.

Mary Sisson, of Point in Time, led the talk and discussion period.

Sisson said, “getting a break from social media can give our brain a break from the stimulation, and reduces feelings of anxiety and irritability. I think what a lot of research has shown, is when we step away from social media, and all of the comparing that happens on social media, then we tend to feel better about ourselves.”

The school board is calling on the social media companies to make their products safer for youth, as they have been intentionally designed for compulsive use, said Carolynne Bull, of TLDSB communications. The school board officially joined the lawsuit, along with other Ontario school boards, on May 29. TLDSB also cited disruptions to the education system as one of its reasons for the lawsuit.

Sisson talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and how that was a big disruption to youth mental health. A lot of youth went to their phones for connection during that time, Sisson said, and it just deepened their need to continue relying on social media for a quick hit.

David Gardner said he came out to the event because he has a newly-born grandchild, coming into a social mediacrazed world.

“My wife is a high school teacher and is always talking about how so many youth are addicted to social media now, and the harm that has been caused or the benefits of it,” he said.

The lawsuit is being filed by Neinstein LLP. It is asking the social media giants to compensate the school boards for disruption to their mandate as a board, to make their products safer, and to support the students’ fundamental right to education.

Sisson and the group at the Legion briefly touched on social media use in schools, and how the burden has shifted towards teachers to deal with the problem, rather than parents. They talked about the lawsuit and discussed the lack of transportation in rural areas to help with isolation.

“Not being as isolated is really important for everyone, not just youth, but for adults as well. Being able to access services and supports in your community, and employment. That’s where transportation is really important,” Sisson said.