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Alumni-Driven Nonprofit Aims to Help ‘Unplug’ Mississippi Youth

By Clara Turnage

University of Mississippi

Hu Meena (left), CEO of CSpire, and his wife, Ashley Creekmore, plan to join the discussion for the Old School Parents Raising Engaged Youth kickoff event on Aug. 1. Submitted photo

Three University of Mississippi alumni families are kicking off a new nonprofit to limit social media exposure for children and teens, Old School Parents Raising Engaged Youth, or Osprey, with a Tuesday (Aug. 1) event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. 

Led by Erin and Ben Napier, Catherine and Taylor Sledge and Ashley Creekmore and Hu Meena, the nonprofit focuses on decreasing screentime for youths across the nation.

More than 95% of teenagers and 40% of children aged 8-12 are active on social media, according to a recent advisory from the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Surgeon General. The same advisory noted that 46% of youths surveyed said social media had a negative impact on their body image and 64% have been exposed to hate content on the internet.

“We feel like if we’re going to change the culture around teenagers and tech use, it has to begin in lower elementary,” said Erin Napier, a Laurel designer, entrepreneur and television star. “We, as our kids were being born, said, ‘I don’t want them to be so glued to this world that’s not even real – social media.’ 

“We want our kids to have real experiences.” 

The kickoff event will include a panel of professionals speaking on the dangers of exposing young children to social media. Tickets, which are $5 for the 7 p.m. panel, are available for purchase.

Panelists include: 

  • Adriana Stacey, a board-certified psychiatrist who researches how tablets, smartphones and video games affect mental health 
  • David Polson, a special agent with the United States Secret Service who is a part of the Electronic Crimes Special Agent Program, which investigates cybercrimes 
  • Erin and Ben Napier, co-founders of Osprey, hosts of HGTV’s “Home Town”
  • Hu Meena, CEO of C Spire, and his wife, Ashley Creekmore 

Catherine and Taylor Sledge, also co-founders of Osprey, will moderate the panel.

“I hope that they learn from some eye-opening facts,” Napier said. “The things happening with tech are happening more quickly than parents can keep up with.” 

The Center for Community Engagement partnered with Osprey to bring the program to campus, said Castel Sweet, UM director of community engagement. The Inn at Ole Miss, and the Ole Miss Alumni Association are also sponsoring the event. 

“The mission of the Center for Community Engagement includes partnering in community-led endeavors to strengthen communities while advancing the research, learning and service mission of the university,” Sweet said.

“We appreciate the leadership of the Napier, Sledge and Meena families and look forward to seeing how the ripples from these conversations might inform research, enhance learning or create service opportunities available to faculty, staff, students and community members.” 


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