Carson King warns Iowa students about negative side of social media

Carson King speaks to children at Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Monday, Nov. 18,...
Carson King speaks to children at Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 (Josh Scheinblum/KCRG)(KWQC)
Published: Nov. 18, 2019 at 7:43 PM CST
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Carson King, who raised more than $3 million for the University of Iowa's Stead Family Children's Hospital, spoke to students Monday morning at Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids with the hopes of inspiring them to make a difference.

"I hope they learn that there's nothing too small, no act of kindness is too small," King said.

King gained national attention when he held up a sign asking for beer money on ESPN before the Iowa - Iowa State football game in September. When lots of money started pouring in, King decided to donate it all to the University of Iowa's Stead Family Children's Hospital.

One corporate donor was Anheuser-Busch, but the company cut its ties to King after controversial social media posts he made years earlier came to light.

King didn't shy away from discussing the social media posts he made when he was a teenager with the students, using them as a teachable moment.

"Something you do as a kid can affect you as an adult," King told the students. "You really got to take into account everything you've done as a kid because it sticks around."

King said he is also concerned that too many students are obsessing over "likes and shares" on their social media profiles.

Jennie Null, a therapist for Tanager Place in Cedar Rapids, said King's concerns are not without merit as studies have shown social media's impact on young people is not only increasing but could have an impact on mental health issues.

"I think some of the most common ones that the literature would point to are feelings of anxiety and depression, and again this kind of comes from that place of comparing yourself to others," Null said.

Null said social media can be positive, too, as it makes it easier for people to connect online. She thinks parents should lead by example when it comes to social media use by being positive online, and they also should talk to their kids about their social media use.

King said, despite his experience with social media, he is moving forward and wants young people to know that even if they make a mistake there are ways to prevent it from ruining your life.

District officials said King was paid $500 to speak at Taft.