by Heather Hemingway, Director of Public Affairs, Round Rock Stake
AUSTIN, Texas — Social activist and Utah native Collin Kartchner stopped in the Austin area on Feb. 24, talking to both kids and parents about the dangers of social media.
More than a thousand attended the fireside held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted by Round Rock Stake on Sunday night. With the stake center filled, a second location received the event via broadcast.
About a year ago, Kartchner created a popular Instagram account which began as a parody of his wife and her friends. It grew by poking fun of social media and eventually raised awareness on the negative effects social media had on self-esteem in kids. Kartchner’s movement to #SavetheKids gained national attention, which earned him a spot on the TED stage in Sept. 2018. About the same time, Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area. Instead of using his large following for sponsorship, Kartchner raised thousands of dollars to aid hurricane victims and made many trips to the area to help.
Save the Kids
Kartchner began his crusade for safe kids after he ran into a former neighbor whom he had not seen for twelve years. He remembered the neighbor’s then seven-year-old daughter, Whitney, and was shocked to hear she had died. The mother blamed herself for Whitney’s death, since she had given her daughter a smartphone in seventh grade. Whitney had been bullied through social media. By the time she was 21, she couldn’t take it anymore and took her own life.
“Smartphones and tablets especially, are causing mental health issues in kids as young as 2. In Utah, youth suicides have jumped 141 percent since 2011,” Kartchner said. June 1, 2018, was Kartchner’s National Delete Snapchat Day. According to Kartchner, Snapchat was the worst of all social media as it was never designed for kids. While the app seems fun with dog face and rainbow vomit filters, photos and messages disappear quickly. The worst part is that the app can introduce kids to pornography through Cosmo After Dark, Kartchner shared.
With all the dings of notifications, likes and follows on smartphones, Kartchner said kids’ dopamine is increased to more than even morphine provides. Kartchner said that letting kids have smartphones is like “giving a kid cocaine every day.” About a year ago, Kartchner, a father of four, took away all screens from his children. He remembered them panicking for about ten minutes until they decided to go outside to play on the trampoline.
Just in the past year, Kartchner has received many messages from kids who said they “felt free” once they deleted their social media or “upgraded” to a flip phone.
The Collin Challenge
Kartchner closed with his Collin Challenge of 10 goals for kids.
- 1. EIGHT HUGS a day for EIGHT seconds. Parents who hug their children give them more endorphins and validation which they won’t need to seek out on social media.
- 2. NO more DEVICES at bedtime. Mom and Dad need to keep phones in their room at night. Kids should use a separate alarm clock to wake up and walkman for music.
- 3. Don’t be mean. BE COOL.
- 4. Families need to be completely SCREEN FREE once a week from 5 to 9 p.m.
- 5. DO something awesome and don’t tell anyone.
- 6. FAIL at something and share it proudly.
- 7. SIX months before a mission, detox from technology (no smartphones, iPads, xbox, etc).
- 8. DELETE social media accounts that do not make you happy. DELETE Snapchat.
- 9. Be REAL and POSITIVE.
- 10. “Take a break from the fake.” — President Russel M. Nelson.
For more information about Collin Kartchner and the Save the Kids Foundation, visit savethekids.us.