The Coronado Unified School District recently joined more than a dozen districts in a lawsuit that alleges social media firms harm children through addictive apps, leading to a mental health crisis.
However, a few parents and students told The Coronado News that CUSD regularly uses social media in the day-to-day learning and social activities for kids across the district.
Meanwhile, seven in 10 Americans use social media to connect, engage with news content, share information, and entertain themselves, while 97% of teens, from ages 13 to 17, use the internet daily, according to the Pew Research Center in 2021 and 2022.
Still, CUSD in April joined 15 other districts from around the country to battle the nation’s largest social media companies alleging sites like Meta, Snap, TikTok and YouTube have caused mental health problems for students.
Parents, students question suit
Following the district filing the suit, a couple CUSD parents pondered why the district was doing so since numerous social media products seem embedded within public education in Coronado and across the country.
One parent questioned whether CUSD, which recently received $30,000 in a national anti-vaping case, is going after free money while another questioned whether any settlement allocation will be used to help students who have been hurt by social media or to prevent future harm.
The parents provided their comments in writing to The Coronado News via email, but they asked that their identities not be disclosed because they were concerned about retribution from the community.
And one group of high school students consider that social media allows them to learn about news and everything going on in the school.
They noted Coronado High School’s Associated Student Body uses social media to inform students about “Fun in the Foam” when the CHS quad is filled with foam for students to dance, a Krispy Kreme fundraiser and the Earth Day Chalk Walk hosted at the Coronado Public Library by Emerald Keepers and other environmental organizations to promote Earth Day.
The district also notes that it uses Facebook for news and fun facts.
District does not require social media use
Maria Simon, CUSD spokeswoman and a former school board member, said that CUSD does not require social media use by students or staff.
Simon said CUSD uses social media as one of many tools used to engage with the community.
“Information on district-wide events and items of interest are sent to families through the superintendent’s weekly newsletter on Friday,” wrote Simon. “Additionally, events, calendars, the family handbook, department information, and general district and school site information is available on the website and the CUSD app.”
The district did not respond to questions regarding social media use for school purposes (including communication with students and parents) during and after the current social media lawsuit, and whether they consider social media communication about school happenings integral to the mental health crisis among youth.
CUSD communication channels
According to the high school’s website, students and families may expect to hear from the schools through four main channels that include social media. They include:
- Monday Weekly newsletters emailed from school principals for information of school events and updates.
- An automated messenger system, via InTouch, for communication on important topics or urgent matters as emails, text messages and/or phone calls.
- Individual school websites for events, activities, calendars, schedules, family handbook, general information.
- The official district Facebook Page for news and fun facts.
Online learning incorporates social media
Learning management systems, such as Google Classroom and Canvas have revolutionized online learning in the past decade, and they are part of CUSD.
At the 4-x-4 bell schedule meeting on April 12, inside the Winn Room at the Coronado Public Library, Gail Bardin shared her granddaughter’s positive experience and academic success by using one of many web-based learning management systems known among CHS parents and students as Canvas.
Bardin said Canvas works well with the 4-x-4, considering the academic pace at the high school, and it has helped her and her granddaughter track assignments and assessments completion on a daily basis.
Students communicate directly with their teachers through the Canvas Learning Management System, according to the district.
While platforms such as Canvas are meant as educational learning tools, experts such as Lori Wade from the Center For Social Impact Communication at Georgetown University consider that such systems make way for the actual implementation of social media within classrooms—even though CUSD and others are alleging this causes mental anguish for kids.
Study: Social media common in homes
While the lawsuit is attacking social media businesses, one study found they are commonly used in most homes.
In 2021, Abdullatif Kaban, from Bayburt University, Turkey, examined the school-family communication through social media dynamic.
Kaban found that social media tools are widely used in school-family communication, especially WhatsApp, followed by Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Additionally, the majority of the study participants being parents said social media tools used in school-family communication are not harmful.
However, a consensus of all participants—teachers’ and parents’—suggest that this tool use should be restricted.
Parent: CUSD uses Instagram
One parent who contacted The Coronado News noted an Instagram post in the class of 2024’s Instagram page for CHS juniors, as an example of official communication from the high school.
A majority of the Coronado school teams communicate solely through social media as well, and they use Instagram to promote their programs.
One Instagram post encouraged CHS juniors to join the corresponding WhatsApp to be a part of powderpuff — a flag football game between the junior and senior class.
Within the Club Directory for Coronado High School for 2022-2023, more than half have corresponding Instagram pages.
CHS students’ evaluate online presence
The Coronado News also found a group of four underclassmen, two freshmen and two sophomores, on May 2, who consider that most students at CHS use Instagram and sometimes TikTok to keep up with events and activities happening across the school.
They said that the same information is also circulated to parents and students via emails from the school.
According to this group of high school students, they are all on social media. And all except one, consider social media to be a big part of their lives.
The group also considers that other important announcements, such as the bell schedule can also be found on the ASB Instagram page, they said.
They said that the ASB Instagram page provides a student perspective on what’s happening while also providing updated information from the student body.
Different sources for information
One of the non-social media sources to provide information is through school announcements on the district’s Coronado Schools Television, where weekly videos through the CHS Broadcast and the KCMS Broadcast for the middle school can be seen.
Yet, students may follow up on the CHS Broadcast for highlights or reposts in a separate Instagram page and they can join respective graduation year class pages via social media.
The students said suing social media companies is excessive because they believe addictions are personal and in this case a consequence of parents buying children smartphones, which is not the fault of social media companies.
One freshman in the friend group believes the suit may encourage less social media use in schools to help students socialize and enjoy school. Still, the group agreed that students may continue to bypass online regulations, including social media, such as is happening with the new Wi-Fi block by using their own hotspots, they said.