During the first week of November 2018, parents in Nebo School District attended a free education night about screen time, device use, social media, and how to navigate the digital age. Presenters included Collin Kartchner and Dr. Katey McPherson.
Dr. Katey McPherson, national internet safety expert, presents to audiences large and small across the country in an effort to educate parents and children on the importance of wise device use.
“Social media is like an iceberg,” McPherson said. What people see is the happy, smiling faces, “perfect lives”, and unattainable body images posted by friends, family, and social media celebrities. What people don’t see is the hard times, the pain behind the smiling faces, and the sadness. Teaching children about the “Social Media Iceberg" will help them deal with the disappointments of life.
Being a high school counselor, McPherson often has parents ask her, “When should I give my child a smartphone?” or “When should I allow my child to have social media?” In response, McPherson says that it is different for each child and there is no magic age. “Restriction is not our goal,” McPherson said, “and technology is not ‘bad’.” The goal for parents is to help their children reach an understanding to where they can self-govern.
Collin Kartchner presents to tweens and teens all over the state of Utah and the country. In addition to his presentation at the parent night, Collin presented at two other schools in Nebo School District.
Collin Kartchner’s fame started when he began using his Instagram account to make fun of Instagram. Instead of posting “perfect life” photos, he used photo filters and videos of random things to help people realize how silly and unrealistic social media can be. Do date, he has over 74 thousand followers. He has used his following to organize charity projects, help natural disaster victims, and create uplifting billboards.
His most recent movement, #savethekids, is centered on saving tweens and teens from the potential destruction that can come from social media.
Collin sites many studies that show anxiety, depression, and risk of teen suicide are linked to smartphone use. Reportedly, 87 percent of teenagers ages 10 to 17 have social media. On average, teens spend 9 hours a day looking at a screen. In addition, many studies show that Instagram is the most likely social media app to cause young people to feel depressed and lonely.
Collin Kartchner encouraged teens to step away from their smart phones, make real connections with their peers and families, and delete apps that are not making them happy. To encourage this, he asked students to stand up and hug the person next to them for eight seconds. “It may feel like forever,” Collin said, “but just hug it out!” Due to the release of oxytocin which has a myriad of health benefits, people need at least 8 hugs a day, for 8 seconds each in order to maintain proper balance. In conclusion, Collin said, “Go hug Snapchat. See what happens.”
Additionally, Collin challenged students to go through each of their social media apps and ask, “Does this make me happy?” If it does not, he encourages them to delete it.
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