Utah dancers hope to spark conversation about teens’ overuse of their phones

Jan 14, 2023, 10:51 PM
Young Utah dancers are sharing a message about the dangers of overusing social media. (KSL-TV)...
Young Utah dancers are sharing a message about the dangers of overusing social media. (KSL-TV)

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah –– Young Utah dancers are sharing a message about the dangers of overusing social media.

They performed Saturday night at the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center in Taylorsville, and now they want to take their performance to schools around the valley.

“I feel like we do a lot of ballets,” said Cati Snarr, owner of Utah Dance Institute. “We do a lot of choreography, but we don’t necessarily do things for the betterment of our community.”

That realization sparked the 30-minute production, which involved 22 dancers. During part of the performance, they danced as a narrator shared statistics and research.

Another piece focused on a young woman who felt lonely despite her 2,000 followers on social media.

“It’s not just saying ‘don’t look at your phone and don’t scroll through your feed,’” explained Tenley Murdock, a senior dance student. “It’s telling you why, and I think that’s so valuable to people.”

Murdock doesn’t use social media and plans to stay away. She wants people to reflect on their habits and truly notice how they are doing.

“I hope that people can learn to connect with other people in person and not just over the phone and not just checking their posts and commenting,” Murdock said.

Gabriel Brown, a seventh grader, said they’d discussed their relationships with technology. He’s more aware of how often he’s on his phone and said he’s using it less these days. Some of his classmates spend many hours a day on their phones.

“I wonder what they do,” he said, “and they just say, ‘I just kind of stay home, do homework, and be on my phone.’ Most of the time, they always say they’re on their phone.”

A representative from Gov. Spencer Cox’s office, Aimee Winder Newton, also was in the audience. She said the performance got the message across better than the experts.

On Tuesday, Cox held a symposium focused on the mental health problems caused by social media.

Utah Dance Institute is reaching out to junior high schools in the Salt Lake Valley and Summit County. They want to perform and reach more young people.

“We just knew there had to be a better way to talk about it in their schools because these really boring lectures that they get weren’t engaging,” Snarr said.

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Utah dancers hope to spark conversation about teens’ overuse of their phones