January 7, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

Have you ever heard of the term fighting fire with fire? Collin Kartchner took that method to heart when he decided to fight social media's influence on youth. At first, it started as just a parody account. Kartchner started making fun of typical "perfect" Instagram posts with his own account. His funny posts quickly gained a following. For a while, he simply enjoyed using humor to shed light on a bigger problem. Then, he had a wakeup call.

One day he talked with a woman he hadn't seen in ten years. He asked her how her daughter was doing and found out that her daughter had died.

“It all started when she said, ‘I (the mother) handed her a loaded gun when she was fourteen. I didn't realize it was a loaded gun.’” Kartchner replied, “Why would you give her a gun?” She said, “No it was a smartphone. I gave her access to the entire world. I let her just have free range on social media. And she got really depressed and she was really down and anxious. And she just kind of started spiraling. And ended up being … gone at around age 21."

Kartchner then decided to share that story on his Instagram account. Almost immediately he had thousands of messages pouring in from all over and from people of all different ages. Celebrities contacted him along with radio and TV hosts. He didn’t realize how big of problem social media was causing among so many people.

"I thought it was only effecting young married people or young moms with kids," he said.

After the realization that this technology was leading to suicides and destroying families, he decided to take his newfound fame and use it to help others. He started the #SavetheKids and #SavetheParents campaigns.

Now he travels each day to new areas to talk to parents, families, and educators about this issue he calls a disease. He is encouraging everyone to take their lives and their happiness back into their own hands.

So how do we fix the problem? He says it starts with setting the example as parents and adults.

“We have to do a lot of backpedaling and have some tough conversations,” he said. “Not just, ‘When is the appropriate age to give young people access to these platforms and this technology?’ But how do we as adults and how do we as parents fix the issue of modeling really bad behaviors for our kids? They’re very smart. They realize when we are being hypocritical. If we’re telling them to get off their phones when we’re always on ours,” Kartchner said.

Kartchner said the key is to start somewhere now.

In September of 2018 Kartchner had the opportunity to speak at TEDx in Salt Lake City. His short, but powerful address received a standing ovation. He has continued to spread his message through billboards that say, “You are beautiful.”

Kartchner will be in Rexburg Tuesday Jan. 8 to speak. He will speak at Madison High School. He will be speaking to students at 6 p.m. and parents at 7 p.m.

Here is the link to Kartchner's campaign website: https://savethekids.us/