Reno author: Put down the smartphones |

Reno author: Put down the smartphones

Social media is a destructive, addictive phenomena affecting children and adults alike, according to Katie Coombs, Reno-based author, public speaker and radio personality.

Coombs spoke to a full house at the Carson City Chamber of Commerce lunch held at the Gold Dust West on Thursday.

Fueling the problem, said Coombs, is the smartphone, introduced 10 years ago, which lets people have constant access to social media.

“It is the fastest growing epidemic,” said Coombs. “People feel like if they leave the house without their phone it’s like leaving without their pants on. Watching the battery go down during the day causes anxiety.”

She said the average person touches their phone seven times an hour; Millennials average 2,600 touches a day.

Coombs said people with children or grandchildren need to be experts in the four major social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

“Snapchat is the worst nightmare for parents,” she said. “Snapchat is a dangerous tool.”

Coombs suggested a few rules for both children and adults to lessen social media’s impact.

Parents, she said, shouldn’t try to keep toddlers occupied and quiet with iPads or smartphones.

“My recommendation is not to give a toddler anything until they’re at least four years old and only here and there then,” said Coombs.

Coombs, who has seven children, said the rule in her house is no one can have their own phone until they’re in 8th grade and then only a phone for making calls.

“They can’t have a smartphone until high school,” she said.

She said parents should set appropriate examples for their children by posting on social media in a responsible way.

“if you’re going to respond on Facebook, take the time. If you’re going to disagree with someone do it in a factual way,” she said.

And despite the trend now to share everything online, focus on what’s important.

“Stick to the four Fs: family, food, friends and fun,” said Coombs. “That’s what matters.”