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Event empowers parents with tools, advice to combat kids’ social media troubles

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Tablets, phones and social media remain a huge challenge for parents trying to raise the next generation, while helping kids to avoid things like depression and bullying.

Wednesday night, a few hundred parents received some helpful tools and advice from researchers, counselors and police at an education event at Brighton High School.

The “Parent Education Night” was organized and hosted by Collin Kartchner, a man who has leveraged a 58,000-plus Instagram following to raise awareness about the ill-effects of social media.

“Nudes and sexting and sending nude photos used to be really like, ‘what the heck?’” Kartchner explained to the crowd. “Now, it’s a rite of passage.”

Speakers included those with expertise in the effects of electronics on child brains and on how to recognize social distress.

They warned of “finstas” or fake Instagram accounts, which can be used to by teens to share or access explicit content and they encouraged parents to have defined limits on electronics, to challenge their kids in the world around them, and to let them fail so they can grow.

Kartchner said to expect similar events around the state in the coming months.

Parent Heather Christensen said she viewed the advice from the speakers as helpful, even for adults struggling with social media and smartphones.

“It’s not going away, so we obviously need to teach our children better tools and better skills how to navigate,” Christensen said. “I think it’s important for (children) to hear these statistics, too, so they know what they’re facing.”

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