When Children View Traumatic Content at School
Heart picture being ripped.


When is it time to contact a Utah personal injury attorney?

 Utah’s Granite School District was forced to throw already scarce resources at an investigation regarding a compromising video that began making rounds on social media. The video allegedly featured an adult male who was a teacher at the school. Thankfully, the video was revealed to be a hoax. However, many students and staff members were traumatized by the content of the video. Though there aren’t currently many laws regarding social media and the internet, many people are wondering who may be liable for the emotional trauma young children may experience by viewing damaging content online? And, whose job is it to prevent children from seeing such content?

The School’s Responsibility

Schools do have a responsibility to ensure their students aren’t accessing inappropriate content onlineespecially when it comes to students using school computers or devices. Schools can reduce their liability by installing filters and firewalls on all of their electronic devices. Furthermore, schools may restrict students’ access to their phones while they’re on campus. Schools may also reduce their liability by monitoring the students while they’re using computers at school. However, if a student views trauma inducing content after intentionally bypassing the school’s filters, it is less likely the school will be liable.

What Is Reasonable?

When it comes to liability and content children are viewing online while on campus, reasonability will likely play an important role in determining liability. If a student is sufficiently determined to view certain content, no school will be able to entirely prevent it. But, schools should take reasonable precautions to ensure that students do not accidentally view content that is disturbing. However, what is reasonable? Is it reasonable for a school to install filters on their computers that block access to harmful content? Likely, yes. But is it reasonable to mandate that every student hand over their phone at the beginning of the day, even going so far as to search students’ persons for phones? Likely not. It is possible that a school took reasonable precautions and a student still viewed content they shouldn’t have been able to access. This is especially true when children are now carrying phones that are basically computers that fit in your pocket.

Can You Sue Social Media Platforms?

Social media platforms have historically argued that they are not responsible for the content their users post. Since social media platforms are simply a venue for content to be posted to, it’s difficult to hold them responsible for content that their users created. However, many social media platforms have community guidelines and standards. If someone posts content that violates the site’s community guidelines, social media platforms may be responsible for removing the content in a timely manner. Furthermore, social media sites have created features which allow users to block, or ignore, people whom they do not want to interact with, and to report content that violates standards. Though this does not prevent cyberbullies from simply creating another account to harass victims (which social media companies should also be looking out for), social media platforms would likely argue that they have taken all the reasonable measures possible to ensure that there is a limit to cyberbullies’ access to their victims.

When There’s a Design Defect

Though social media platforms have not historically been responsible for the content their users post, they are responsible for design defects. In product liability cases, a design defect occurs when a defect in a product’s design causes the product to become unreasonably dangerous when it is being used as intended. Snapchat recently pulled their infamous speed filter from their platform after multiple people crashed their cars while using the filter. Snapchat’s speed filter was likely pulled because it could be argued that its existence encouraged users to drive as fast as possible while using the app since the app measured a person’s speed. YikYak, a social media platform that allows people to message each other completely anonymously, has also been pulled in 2017. This is likely due to the fact that pure anonymity isn’t useful for much except sexual harassment and bullying.

What Can Parents Do?

In Utah, parents have the most legal responsibility when it comes to monitoring the content their child views. In order to prevent your children from accessing harmful content, you may decide that your children do not have a phone, or that they do not have a smartphone. You can also protect them from content online by installing filters that prevent access to explicit content, and making sure that computers in your home are in common and open areas and that the screens are clearly visible to other family members when they are in use. Though it may seem as though harmful content is everywhere and you cannot prevent your child from accessing social media platforms, you can take many steps to minimize their exposure.

When Is It Time to Get a Utah Personal Injury Attorney Involved?

 If you’re not sure whether or not it’s time to contact a Utah personal injury attorney, you may wish to start going through the elements of negligence to see how many apply to your case. Though it will not tell you definitively whether or not you’ve got a case, it may help you decide whether or not you should move forward with a personal injury claim. If you decide to file a claim, you need to contact a Utah personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Moxie Law Group, we give our potential clients free initial consultations in order to provide them with the most accurate information and help them make the best decisions regarding their case. If you know you need to speak with a Utah personal injury attorney, contact Moxie Law Group today.