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Teens start movement for healthy use of social media

Teens in Colorado are nearly twice as likely to take their own lives compared to the rest of the country. Social media can be linked to depression and bullying.

A group of Colorado teens says “enough is enough” so they’ve launched a campaign to get everyone on board with just “being present”.

Heritage High School students Cason Kurowski, Chloe Schilling and Joe Roberts started the Offline October Challenge after becoming fed up with the negative effects of excessive social media exposure, depression and bullying on teens across the nation.

The group’s mission statement says, “we believe that social media has a negative impact on today’s youth and has contributed to many recent suicides.

The challenge is meant for people to realize the importance of human relationships and the happiness that can come from direct human interaction. Social media has become a dictating force in people’s lives.

We hope that from this challenge people will maintain and manage stronger friendships, develop face to face communication skills, and become happier in their overall well-being.”

More than 150 schools across the nation are taking part in the challenge. Kurowski tells FOX31 the healthy use of social media enables users to enjoy “quality relationships instead of quantity relationships through the number of followers you have.”

Roberts says it is easy to become obsessed with social media and forget about what’s truly important in life “we're so busy looking down, but if you look three inches up it's a whole new world.”

Schilling adds that too many students use social media as a measuring stick to determine their self worth, “they use it to portray their best life or even a life that doesn't even represent who they are so we thought everyone might need a break from that.”

The students say recent cases of teen suicide should put everyone on notice that something must be done before tragedy strikes again. Roberts says, “the hardest part is knowing they won’t be able to walk down the aisle for their wedding or go to graduation.”

Part of the campaign involves reaching out to those who are struggling and sustaining a supportive environment. Roberts says it is extremely important to let anyone facing a challenge know that “there's always going to be someone in their life who has their back and who's there for support.”

Kurowski says helping someone you suspect is having a hard time is as easy as telling them they have a friend and saying, “if life knocks you down get back up.” Information about how to maintain healthy social media habits is available online.

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