Collin Kartchner could walk into any room and fill it with laughter and happiness, according to his wife.

“I like to imagine God was in a really good mood when he made Collin!” Elizabeth Kartchner wrote earlier this year on her husband’s 40th birthday.

“He has a bear hug that could heal your soul in 8 seconds and enthusiasm to leave you ready to take the world,” she continued.

Over the years, Kartchner promoted the eight-second hug and shared his enthusiasm with more than 500,000 youths and adults across the country, passionately speaking to kids and parents about screen addiction and social media.

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On Oct. 21, Elizabeth Kartchner shared that her husband — the Utah-based activist who founded the #SavetheKids campaign in 2018 to shed light on his belief that social media is causing teen anxiety, depression and suicide — had died “unexpectedly.”

“We’ve never known such pain,” she wrote on Instagram Wednesday. “He peacefully passed away unexpectedly due to natural causes in his beautiful body that we are unclear of yet.”

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date, but the tributes to Collin Kartchner and the lives he saved with his campaign quickly began surfacing following the news of his death.

In 2018, Kartchner shared his campaign at TedXSaltLakeCity. Here are seven quotes and insights from that lecture, which to date has been viewed on YouTube nearly 350,000 times.

Activist Collin Kartchner, who spoke out on the dangers of social media on kids, has died
  • “Experts say that handing a smartphone with social media and untethered access to these apps with no training or guidance is like handing them (children) the keys to a car with no driver’s ed. So how do we sit here in shock wondering why kids are crashing and burning every single day?” 
  • “Dr. Jean Twenge wrote a book called “iGen”where she studied thousands of teenagers and the effect that screen time and social media have on their mental health. And she said this: ‘We are on the verge of the greatest public health crisis this generation has ever seen.’ That was two years ago. We are no longer verging. The verge is here.” 
  • “Smartphones and social media, when we hand them to our kids, it is literally stealing their joy. It’s robbing them from the ability to create and feel real connection. Instead of dealing with their emotions and their feelings head-on, kids are just scrolling on their phones to numb their pain and their feelings, which is robbing them of resiliency.” 
  • “Cyberbullying has become a huge crisis. Our kids’ entire self-worth at 13 is determined by virtual, unpredictable feedback. The validation that we all crave to them is only available in this synthetic way. … And one mistake, one tiny gaffe that we all made as 13-year-olds every day — that when we were kids was forgotten in an hour — is now publicly housed on the school Snapchat page. When you’re 13 today, there is no place to run. There’s no escape. And it is soul crushing.” 
  • “We have to have tough conversations about what is the proper age to hand our children this technology and these devices. … We have to stand up to the big tech companies who are creating products and games and apps that are deliberately exploiting and manipulating our kids, all for insane profit.”
Op-ed: Social media — our great public health crisis
  • “The answer of how do we save these kids is that we can’t until we first save ourselves. We as adults and as parents, we have to break free from our screen dependency and our social media addiction. ... We have to teach them from our example that our worth, that our self-esteem, doesn’t depend on likes on a photo. We have to teach them from our example that it’s OK to show the world that we’re not OK, that we all feel alone and inadequate. … And we can share that, even though social media has taught us not to.” 
  • “Kids today are amazing. I talk to thousands every month, and they’re incredible. They are resilient, they are bright, they are savvy, they are tolerant. But they are growing up in a world that is muckier and scarier than any of us could ever imagine. And they need now more than ever, from you and me, to be seen, to be heard and to be loved.” 

Here are some tips from the “Collin Challenge” Kartchner shared with kids and parents everywhere he spoke (compiled from Cache Valley Family Magazine,, Uinta County Herald and N’West Iowa):

  • Hug eight people for eight seconds every day
  • Share more authenticity
  • Do something awesome and don’t share it this week
  • Fail at something and share it proudly
  • Eliminate accounts and follows that don’t make you happy
  • Take a week off social media each month to reset your brain

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