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Legal Challenge to Meta

A big legal showdown is happening. 33 states, including influential ones like California and New York, are taking Meta Platforms Inc. to court. They allege that Meta is massively having a negative impact on the mental health of young people, especially children, and that Meta’s apps like Instagram and Facebook are designed to be overly addictive.

Concerns Over Data Collection

The states are also concerned about how Meta gathers data from kids under 13 without getting permission from their parents, which is against the rules. Yet still they have accounts on these platforms. Filed in a federal court in California, this lawsuit also alleges that Meta consistently harvests data from children under 13 without the vital consent of their parents, which is a clear violation of federal law.

Words from New York’s Top Lawyer

New York Attorney General Letitia James is outspoken about this issue. Kids and teenagers are suffering from record levels of poor mental health, and social media companies like Meta are to blame,” declares New York Attorney General Letitia James. She doesn’t mince words, pointing out that Meta has profited from children’s pain by engineering platforms with manipulative features, all while undermining their self-esteem.

Collaborative Investigation

This legal battle is the result of a joint effort by lawyers from different states. They delved into Meta’s secret studies, revealing that Instagram, in particular, has a detrimental impact on teenagers, especially girls. It all comes after damning revelations that first emerged in 2021 from The Wall Street Journal, grounded in Meta’s internal research. This research apparently showed how Instagram can profoundly affect teenagers, particularly teenage girls, in terms of mental health and body image issues. One study cited that 13.5% of teen girls felt that Instagram worsens thoughts of suicide, while 17% believed it exacerbates eating disorders.

Media and Whistleblower’s Impact

The seriousness of the matter is further underscored by the involvement of a consortium of news organizations, including The Associated Press. Their findings were primarily based on leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen. Haugen’s testimony before Congress and a British parliamentary committee has shone a light on these concerns, adding fuel to the fire.

The Prevalence of social media Among Teens

One fact remains undisputed: social media is an integral part of teen life in the U.S. and many parts of the world. According to the Pew Research Center, up to 95% of youths aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. use a social media platform. More than a third of these young individuals claim to use social media “almost constantly.”

Challenges with Regulation and Bypassing Restrictions

Despite regulations banning children under 13 from signing up on social media platforms, the lawsuit highlights the concerning ease with which children can circumvent these bans, often without their parents’ consent. Even restrictions imposed by social media platforms for the sake of children’s mental health can be sidestepped. For example, TikTok introduced a default 60-minute time limit for users under 18, but minors can simply enter a passcode to keep on watching.

A Call for Immediate Action

In May, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy signaled, calling on tech companies, parents, and caregivers to take “immediate action to protect kids now” from the adverse effects of social media. The battle lines are drawn, and the tech industry’s impact on youth mental health is under the spotlight like never before.

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New Delhi: On the auspicious occasion of Teachers’ Day, The World Environment Council in collaboration with the International Environmental Studies Olympiad successfully coordinated an International Webinar on the role of teachers in creating environmental awareness in youth. The webinar came into action at 6 PM, on the 5th of September 2023. The webinar gathered environmentalists, chancellors, university directors, government officials, professors, and school teachers from all across the globe including India, Nepal, USA, Dubai etc.

The webinar commenced with a warm welcome from WEC Member, Aditya Kumar Channa, followed by an introduction by the Advisor of WEC, Dheeraj Kumar, who presented an overview of the World Environment Council (WEC) as well as the International Environmental Studies Olympiad (IESO). The foremost guest speaker was Dr. Jubilee Padmanabhan from the Department of School Education, Central University, Punjab. She enlightened the crowd about some key aspects of the role of teachers in fostering environmental awareness in youth and how it is of paramount significance, as they play a pivotal role in molding the attitudes, behaviors, and values of the upcoming generation. Educators are not just instructors; they are mentors and influencers who have the unique opportunity to instill a deep understanding of environmental issues and a sense of responsibility for the planet in their students.

In continuation of the webinar, Dr Ajaykumar Lolage, ex-special officer, Balbharti, Pune; discussed Education and Knowledge Dissemination: “Teachers are the primary source of knowledge for students”. They introduce them to concepts related to the environment, climate change, biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability. Through well-designed curricula and engaging lessons, teachers expose students to a foundational understanding of environmental issues and also embody them with the Inspiration and Motivation to create a change.

They hold the power to influence their students. By sharing their passion for environmental conservation and sustainability, they can ignite a similar enthusiasm in young minds. Inspirational teachers often lay the foundation by examples, resonating with their actions in taking care of the environment.

Our next Guest Speaker was Dr. Kavita Sharma from Environmental Education (Moef and Cl) (NCERT). She expressed her point of view concerning the theme and also gave a detailed explanation of Empowerment, Global Perspective, Values and Ethics. She also emphasized on  “Adaptation to Change: Teachers help students understand that environmental conditions are constantly changing, and adaptation is key to resilience.” They teach students how to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change and other environmental challenges. In  the continuation our next guest was Dr. Sukh Dev Singh CEO of IFS, Delhi  . He spoke about  the   Connecting Global Issues to Local Context: Teachers can help students understand how global environmental issues are interconnected with local concerns. By exploring the impact of environmental problems on their own communities, students may be more motivated to take action.

 For Maintaining the continuation of the program, Prof. Mr. Ganesh Channa, Founder and President of the World Environment Council and one of the honorable Guest speakers of the evening, along with our National Education Excellence Awardees, Mrs. Vidhya Jadhav, Prof. Helata Talesra, Dr. Santosh Sonavane, Dr. Bl Yadav, Prof. Hemant Samant, Dr. Chaman Singh Thakur, Mr. Narendra Bogam and Mr. Niranjan Singh, addressed the matter with great concern and encouraged the implementation of reasonable solutions to cope up with the profound initiatives to conserve the mother nature.

The webinar concluded with an interactive session for the non-speaker participants, clarifying their hesitations and doubts. The participation of the respected dignitaries proved to be an asset in making the event successful, implanting ideas to militate the derogation of the environment and promote the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability.

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