A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷
Content Warning: This article discusses youth suicide.
✨Gleaming This Week✨
- Seattle Public Schools Sue Social Media Companies for Detrimental Effects on Youth
- Free West Seattle Water Taxi Rides Available During Closure of Spokane Street Swing Bridge
- The Memory Hub at University of Washington Welcomes the Public
Seattle Public Schools Sue Social Media Companies for Detrimental Effects on Youth
On Friday, Jan. 6, in the first-ever case of its kind, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) filed a 98-page U.S. District Court lawsuit accusing the social media companies behind TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube for their allegedly detrimental effects among youth.
Citing the vast growth of social media platforms over the past decade, the lawsuit alleges, “Defendants’ growth is a product of choices they made to design and operate their platforms in ways that exploit the psychology and neurophysiology of their users into spending more and more time on their platforms. These techniques are both particularly effective and harmful to the youth audience Defendants have intentionally cultivated, creating a mental health crisis among America’s youth.”
“Defendants have successfully exploited the vulnerable brains of youth, hooking tens of millions of students across the country into positive feedback loops of excessive use and abuse of Defendants’ social media platforms,” the lawsuit continues. “Defendants’ misconduct has been a substantial factor in causing a youth mental health crisis, which has been marked by higher and higher proportions of youth struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidal ideation.”
Within the lawsuit are details on the tactics companies have used to attract and retain youth. It cites that SPS has needed to “divert resources and expend additional resources … to address mental, emotional, and social health issues,” including the hiring of counselors and medical professionals, additional trainings for teachers and staff, lesson plans related to the dangers of social media platforms, and increased training for teachers and staff. Secondary repercussions they cite relate to the ways in which students have “been acting out as a result of the decline Defendants caused in mental, emotional, and social health.”
In response, some big tech companies have issued their own statements against the allegations. Google spokesperson José Castañeda told Axios that Google has “invested heavily in creating safe experiences for children across our platforms and have introduced strong protections and dedicated features to prioritize their well-being,” citing Family Link as an example, a parental control feature that allows parents to set screen time and restrict content, among other abilities.
Reuters reported, ”In an emailed statement, Meta, which owns Facebook, said it has developed more than 30 tools to support teens and their families and will continue to work closely with experts, policymakers, and parents.”
The lawsuit, meanwhile, offers specific statistics regarding increase rates of depression and suicide among their student body, including the reality that suicide has become the second leading cause of death for youth. Between 2009 and 2019, they saw a 30% increase in the number of students who reported feeling “so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that [they] stopped doing some usual activities.”
The increase in youth facing depression also correlated to an increase in youth considering, planning, and attempting suicide.
Free West Seattle Water Taxi Rides Available During Closure of Spokane Street Swing Bridge
The ongoing closure of the Spokane Street Swing Bridge (low bridge) for emergency repairs has led to a partnership between Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro, who will offer free credits for trips on the West Seattle Water Taxi or bus using the Transit GO Ticket app.
The fares are funded by the Seattle Transit Measure, which was passed by voters in 2020, and comes at a time when the bridge closure affects those throughout the Duwamish Valley and West Seattle. The bridge has been stuck since Dec. 23’s severe winter ice storm, when its electrical and mechanical systems were damaged.
According to a press release from SDOT, to get free trip credits, Seattle area residents should:
- Download the Transit GO Ticket app and create an account.
- They may then click on “Rewards” and enter the code LOWBRIDGE23 to get 1,500 points for their next ride.
- Transit riders can then press “Redeem” to choose between using these points for a trip on the West Seattle Water Taxi or a bus that travels to/from West Seattle.
- Riders may then press “View Ticket” to confirm their order, and show the ticket to their transit operator.
- Once the ticket has been used, app users will be automatically awarded another 1,500 points for their next ride. They will continue to earn free points for transit rides as long as the Spokane Street Bridge is closed to people walking, rolling, and biking.
Updates about the response effort for the Spokane Street Swing Bridge can be found on the SDOT blog.
The Memory Hub at University of Washington Welcomes the Public
Located in First Hill and operated by UW Medicine’s Memory and Brain Wellness Center, the Memory Hub (1021 Columbia St.) is a community center for individuals with memory loss, their families, and supporters of a dementia-friendly community. Starting Tuesday, Jan. 10, the public will be welcome to use the site’s resources Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..
The Memory Hub’s resources include: a library and resource room with educational materials around memory loss and caregiving; an art gallery; a public memory garden designed with a sensory focus; a Memory Navigator program which offers free 30-minute appointments with care consultants; and a Free Tech Lab, which shows ways in which technology and apps can promote the independence and health of those with memory loss.
They also offer Elderwise, an adult day program; a monthly Alzheimer’s Café social event offered by the Frye Art Museum; caregiver education classes and support groups; the Dementia Friends public awareness program; and much more.
Learn more and sign up for classes or events at TheMemoryHub.org.
The Memory Hub is the project of five mission-aligned partners, including UW Medicine, Frye Art Museum, Elderwise, Full Life Care and the Alzheimer’s Association.
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