At what age is it appropriate to give your kid a smartphone? How can we #savethekids from the dangers of social media? This is the work Collin Kartchner dedicated what ended up being the final years of his life to.
I had planned to have Collin on the Podcast to share his mission, but unfortunately, that time never came. Collin Kartchner passed away suddenly on October 20th, 2020. So, even though he cannot be here today, it is my honor to share his mission with all of you. He fought hard for our kids and it's in our hands now to carry the torch.
Today in our country and across the globe we are seeing an epidemic rise in the levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide among our teenagers. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-24 year old Americans. The rate of death by suicide in people 10-24 years old increased 57.4% over the 10 year period from 2007 to 2018. Much of this epidemic has been attributed to the rise of cell phones and social media over the last decade. Let's dive in and tackle this important topic.
Collin Kartchner Tedx Talk
Collin Kartchner Website
Collin Kartchner Celebration of Life
Collin Kartchner Memorial Fund To Support Collin's beautiful wife and 4 kids
The Collin Kartchner Podcast
Email: [email protected]
No time to listen? No problem, here's the transcript:
Hey everyone, welcome back to the Podcast. I am back after a little bit of a Podcast break. Sorry if you were missing me at all, I found myself with a lot on my plate and something had to give. Long story short, we’ve had more schedule changes in our house due to Covid which has actually made it more difficult for me to be productive and at the same time my coaching business is growing and taking up more of my time, and I’m also working on a really fun project with a new app that’s going to be released soon, so I took a little breather from recording but I’ve been thinking about you guys a ton!
I’ve been asking questions in my Facebook group to find out what you all want to learn more about and have gotten some really good ideas - so I’m excited to get the ball rolling again on weekly episodes. There was a lot of interest in learning more about Positive Discipline and Conscious Parenting so I’ll be sure to bring more of that in the near future.
For today, I wanted to share with you a message that I think is really important. In fact, when I first started this podcast I had reached out to the man behind today’s message and asked him to be on this show. He wrote me back right away with enthusiasm and I was so excited for the opportunity to have him on the show. I was actually really nervous about it because I just admired what he was doing so much and thought maybe my platform was too new or too small to do him justice. So, because of unwarranted imposter syndrome on my part, I put it off longer than I should have even though I was extremely excited about it. Well, as a reminder to never put off till tomorrow what can be done today, I was shocked and incredibly saddened to find out that he passed away suddenly on October 20th. The man I’m talking about is Collin Kartchner and his mission was to Save our Kids from the dangers of social media. Collin has been an inspiration to me as I have been building my career as a parent coach and I want to share his message here and help him and his legacy live on.
As Collin would point out when sharing his mission - today in our country and across the globe we are seeing an epidemic rise in the levels of anxiety, depression, and suicide among our teenagers. According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-24 year old Americans. The rate of death by suicide in people 10-24 years old increased 57.4% over the 10 year period from 2007 to 2018. Much of this epidemic has been attributed to the rise of cell phones and social media over the last decade. So today I’m going to talk about Collins message to save the kids from the downward spiral of social media.
Collin spent his final years serving as a warrior for these teens. He spoke directly to and for our youth on the dangers of social media. And while he cant be here today, I want his message to live on.
So I wanted to start this off with Collin’s Bio for those of you who aren’t familiar with him or his work.
In 2017, Collin Kartchner started a popular parody Instagram account simply to make fun of social media and the culture of toxic perfectionism it has created. Instead of using his platform and large following to earn paid sponsor posts or ad dollars, he used his account to do good. I started following him during his parody days and he was hilarious.
But I do remember watching when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Collin used social media to crowd-fund over $125,000 for Hurricane victims which he and his wife Liz then personally delivered to many families in Texas. Soon after when Hurricane Maria hit, he helped a group raise $350,000 for people in Puerto Rico. He then raised over $30,000 for three Utah children fighting cancer and threw the largest social-media created Christmas party for the kids. In February 2018, he raised over $15,000 in less than 12 hours to put "You are Loved" and "You are Beautiful" billboards across Utah seen an estimated 1.18M times. He got the idea after a road trip where there was billboard after billboard promoting plastic surgery and ways to supposedly better your body. He wanted to spread positive messages instead.
In April 2018, Collin started a campaign to #SavetheKids from social media and screen addiction's negative affect on their mental and emotional health. His message has resonated with the masses, as he then proceeded to speak to 500,000+ youth and adults across the country. He was even invited to speak at TEDxSaltLakeCity in 2018, as well as for invitations to speak at companies like Nike and Adidas. He was interviewed for TV and newspapers on this topic many times. Collin's messages for students of all ages, parents, educators, and businesses was engaging, entertaining, emotional, and inspiring.
Before his death, Collin was on a crusade to help educate parents on the damage social media and 24/7 access to peer culture will have on their child's mental health. His goal - to help teens rise above social media comparison, negativity, cyber bullying, and the stress of being perfect. Every day Collin would receive 100's of message from teens sharing how social media is hurting their mental health, and how his message changed or even saved their lives.
His #SavetheKids Parent Awareness Nights were a huge success, empowering parents to stop fighting their teen's phone use and start fighting FOR their teen. These events were usually standing room only and carried the message that I had hoped Collin could share with all of you. And since he can’t, I will do my best to do it justice.
So as I just mentioned in Collin’s bio, his Instagram started as a funny parody account. He was basically making fun of the ridiculousness of influencers and their portrayal of the perfect life. While it was hilarious to watch on his Instagram stories, he pulled the plug on the parody account after a chance run-in with an old coworker of his wife's who he hadn’t seen in like 10-12 years. The co-workers daughter was like his little buddy all those years ago so of course, he was like hey! How are you? How’s your daughter? But the mom was like, oh I thought you had heard, she passed away about a year ago..So he was like omg I'm so sorry, what happened. And the mom said that when her daughter was 14 she made the biggest mistake of her life, she gave her a loaded gun and didn't show her how to use it, and it killed her. So of course Collin was like, well I don't understand, why would you give her a gun? And she pulled the phone out of her pocket and said no, I gave her this and it ended up killing her. She had actually died by suicide because of the ramifications of her phone.
We are losing our kids to our phones and apps and social media. This woman’s daughter was led down a spiral that started with her phone and social media that led to anxiety, to depression, to self-harming, to addiction, until finally at 20 years old she ended up taking her life.
From that point on, all of the fun and games on his Instagram stopped and Collin decided that something needed to be done. He told that story to his 50,000 followers at the time and for 2 weeks straight started getting 2000 messages a day from other kids saying the same thing was happening to them. They were also on that downward spiral or their best friend was, or their sibling was, or they’d already lost someone. So Collin knew this is what he now needed to spend all of his time on so he could do whatever he could do to fix this.
Collin wanted all of us to realize and accept the fact that as parents we are really the first generation dealing with this. He actually spoke to one of the guys in silicon valley who works on these social media apps who likened social media to when cocaine hit miami in the 80’s - it hit too fast, too hard, and everyone got hooked. And as the first generation of parents dealing with this, we are just starting to see what’s happening. Just like when they brought cigarettes out in the old days, everyone said their amazing, they make us look cool and feel good, and so kids smoked and parents let them and it wasn't until people were dying or getting sick that they started to take a step back and say whoa whoa wait a second, maybe we need to look into this more. And that’s what’s happening with our kids and smartphones right now.
Collin did a Ted Talk in 2018 where he shared responses that he got from asking about 500 middle schoolers at a talk he was doing to fill out a notecard and fill in the blank to this question: One thing my parents don’t know about social media is……
And here are some of the responses he got.
One thing my parents don't know about social media is how much I love it and I hate it at the same time
One thing my parents don't know about social media is that they’re blocked
One thing my parents don't know about social media is how fake it is. Truthfully I’ve never really struggled with the fakeness of Instagram, but my mom does
One thing my parents don't know about social media is how addictive and how awful it is..
One thing my parents don't know about social media is it makes me very, very, very insecure
Social media makes me sad and depressed
It puts pressure on me to be perfect
One thing my parents don't know about social media is it nearly ended my life.
Experts say that handing a smartphone with social media with no training or guidance is like handing them the keys to a car with no driver's ed. Yet, we are shocked when these kids crash and burn every single day.
Smartphones and social media are robbing our kids, and quite frankly us as adults, the ability to create real connection. How often do you go out to restaurants and see entire families disengaged and just staring at their phones?
Not to mention 24/7 access to these apps just opens up a door to pornography, cyberbullying, comparison, and so much more. Our kids' self-worth is coming from feedback online and likes.
So how do we save the kids from all of this? First, we need to have conversations about what is the proper age to let our kids have these devices. Then we need to look at countries like France who have passed a bill banning cell phones from public schools nationwide. We also need to start talking to and standing up to the tech companies who are deliberately exploiting and manipulating our kids for profit, but the truth is, we will never be able to save the kids until we save ourselves.
As parents, we need to model what it looks like to have a healthy relationship with our phones and social media. We need to get over our own addiction to our phones. They are watching us and learning from our example. We have to teach them our worth is not tied to online approval. We also need to show them that THEY are getting our attention, not our phones. When you stop looking at your phone and instead look at your kids, you’re connecting with them and showing them that they matter.
So what is the proper age to hand over one of these loaded guns? Collin's answer would be whenever you’re ready for your kid to see pornography or whenever you’re ready to increase their anxiety. Because it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
I remember him talking about GABB phones which is a safe phone for kids. It looks like a smartphone but No parental controls are needed: there’s no social media, no web browsing, no games, no app store, and essentially no worries. It has an 8 megapixel camera for taking pictures and videos, bluetooth, messaging, music, a calendar, calculator, and voice recorder. So it is literally just like a smartphone just without all of the worries
I’d love for all of the parents out there to realize that when we let our kids have free reign of a cell phone and social media we’re basically handing them a pack of cigarettes or a set of car keys and hoping for the best. Let’s make a pact to halt this epidemic of teen anxiety and suicide. Your next best step is to start with yourself and model responsible screen usage in front of them. Make a promise to yourself to put your phone down today, connect with your kids, give them each an 8-second hug, and do what you can to protect them as long as you can.
Thank you so much for listening. I know I haven’t given Collin's message full justice so please, follow the links in the show notes so you can hear this and more from the mouth of Collin Kartchner. I’ll link his TedX talk as well as his website where you can learn more about #savethekids.
And Collin, thank you for your tireless efforts, for your message, and for making such an impact on my life and the lives of so many others. Especially all of those kids who felt comfortable sharing with you. You saved many lives and will be greatly missed.