KC organization helps families navigate the internet safely

OLATHE, Kan. — Kansas City organization Stand Together and Rethink Technology, or START, is advocating for young people to use technology responsibly, in order to help their mental health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the White House issued a proclamation that noted the impact social media plays in increasing mental health challenges among young people, especially young women.

According to that proclamation, emergency room visits for attempted suicide among girls increased by more than 50% in 2021 compared to 2020.

START offers help for parents, like Megan Endres, a mom of three children.

As a mom, Endres said she didn’t know how to start the conversation about the digital world.

“Just realizing as a family, we wanted to have values around that and some boundaries around that,” she said. ”Recognizing we are in this place of new challenges, that we need help, we need to be intentional about how to shepherd our kids.”

That’s why she got involved with START.

“We’re teaching parents to take a ride, practice driven approach, which gradually introduces technology with intention conversations around it,” co-founder Krista Boan said. “Kids, only 14% of them say they’ve had a helpful conversation with adults about technology, so it’s a generational gap.”

The gap Boan mentioned is one that Endres wants to see close, not only as a mom but also as a social worker in the emergency room at Advent Health, who sees the impact scrolling online can have on kids.

“They are having suicidal thoughts, or self harm thoughts. A lot of times it’s because there’s been a trigger, like a triggering event that has to do with social media,” Endres said.

After learning tips and tools from START, Megan has come up with solutions for her 12-year-old-son, and said now is the time for parents to start creating a new narrative for kids online.

“We ended up getting him, instead of a cell phone, a walkie talkie device that’s on cell service that has helped us be able to communicate with him.” Endres said.

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