A man who has spoken to hundreds of thousands of youths and adults throughout the nation is coming to Southeast Idaho next month to share his message about the harmful effects of social media.
Collin Kartchner will be visiting schools in Pocatello, Marsh Valley, American Falls and Blackfoot during the week of Nov. 4, and he’s planning to hold a couple of education nights for parents while he’s here.
The first event, which organizers say is open to parents, grandparents and anyone else with children in their lives, will take place at the Stephens Performing Arts Center in Pocatello at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.
“Collin will be joined by a local panel of experts including Matt Frost, FBI information technology specialist forensic examiner, Bill McKee, counselor, and Amy Bowie, Irving Middle School principal,” according to a news release.
A second education night will take place at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center in Blackfoot at 7 p.m. Nov. 7.
Both are free, but organizers encourage people to arrive early since seating typically fills up quickly.
Kartchner started a campaign in 2018 to #SavetheKids from the negative effects that social media and screen addiction can have on mental and emotional health, according to the news release.
“Collin is on a crusade to help educate teens and parents on the damage social media and 24/7 access to peer culture will have on their child’s mental health,” the news release states. “His goal is to help teens rise above social media comparison, negativity, cyber bullying, and the stress of being perfect.”
In a presentation at TEDxSaltLakeCity last year, Kartchner talked about the answers he received from middle schoolers when he asked them what their parents didn’t know about social media. While some responses were funny, he said the majority were grim. The kids talked about how it made them feel “very, very, very insecure,” “sad and depressed,” how it put “pressure on me to be perfect,” and how “it nearly ended my life.”
“Experts say that handing a smartphone with social media and untethered access to these apps with no training or guidance is like handing them the keys to a car with no drivers ed,” Kartchner said at the TEDxSaltLakeCity event. “So how do we sit here in shock wondering why kids are crashing and burning every single day?”
While Kartchner knows social media can be a great tool — he’s used it to raise funds for hurricane and cancer victims and “You are Loved” and “You are Beautiful” billboards in Utah — he believes kids lack the maturity they need to successfully navigate it without a lot of guidance.
“Yes, there is so much good you can do with social media. Yes, technology isn’t going anywhere. But these platforms were not designed for tweens and teens,” Kartchner wrote in a guest post on www.websafety.com. “Their ‘more is better’ mindset is a recipe for disaster with social media. Their desire to do anything to fit in or be liked, combined with social media, is a recipe for disaster. They can and will be ready for it, but we can’t teach the maturity required to successfully navigate through this digital world. It’s like handing them a pair of shoes that are too big. They will fit, eventually, but not yet.”
On his website, Kartchner says he loves kids and believes today’s youth are smart, capable and resilient, but they are also “wading through water so mucky none of us could ever imagine dealing with.”
“Social media and smartphones can be used for so much good, but sadly they are tearing at the fabric of our society and our homes. As I invite kids to focus on living in real life and stop worrying about social media perfection, that it’s okay to show the world you’re not okay, I can see a weight lift off their shoulders and many inspire their peers and parents to get off social media as well,” he says on his website. “I believe it is going to be the kids today that save us all.”
For more information about Kartchner and his efforts, visit savethekids.us.