Collin Kartchner of the non-profit #SavetheKids foundation speaking to a group of parents.

BLACKFOOT – The Blackfoot School District is sponsoring a presentation by “Saving the Kids” founder Collin Kartchner. The talk is free to the public on Thursday at 7 p.m., at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center.

The topic will be on the damage that social media and screen addiction has on the mental health of kids and teens.

The target audience for the presentation are the parents and guardians of students but all interested members of the public can attend. Kartchner’s aim is to educate everyone on the impact that smart devices and social media have on the well-being and safety of school-aged children and teens.

Doors open to the public at 6:30 p.m. Kartchner’s presentations are often standing-room-only so the district is advising that attendees should arrive early to be assured of a seat.

Kartchner will also be giving presentations directly to local students during the day on Thursday. He will speak at Mountain View Middle School at 9 a.m., Blackfoot High School at 10:30 a.m., and Independence High School at 12:30 p.m.

As a courtesy to Snake River, the Blackfoot School District is also sending Kartchner to hold a student presentation at the Snake River Junior and Senior High Schools at 2 p.m.

Kartchner is a well-known social advocate who has campaigned for multiple causes. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children with cancer and hurricane victims.

He is also the person behind the “You Are Beautiful” and “You Are Loved” billboard campaigns.

Kartchner founded the non-profit #SavetheKids organization when he saw the harm that smart devices have on children and teens. Young people often lack the emotional maturity to handle adverse social situations and adult content on the internet.

He gave his first “Parents Education Night” talk in his hometown of Pleasant Grove, Utah. Ever since then, he has spoken to both students and their families around the country, usually to standing-room-only crowds.

In a 2018 op-ed in the Deseret News, Kartchner wrote: “Handing a tween or teen a smart phone with access to Instagram and Snapchat with zero training, guidance, or monitoring, is like handing them keys to the family car as 12 with zero driver’s ed. How then are we shocked when they keep crashing and burning?”

Kartchner’s goal is to help rescue tweens and teens from the destructive effect that social media can have on their self-esteem and mental health. He also aims at giving parents and guardians the tools to combat screen addiction and reconnect with their children.

Kartchner’s message to parents is unflinching. “Smart phones and social media are the new drug of choice in homes. They hooked parents, disconnected them from their kids, distracted us from who is truly important, and taught us that ‘likes’ = self worth — and now our kids are modeling us. Kids need our eyes and our love and validation more than ever before. Showing your kids you love them is 2 percent effort and 98 percent just putting down your phone.”