Miami-Dade County

Fearing teens are too alone due to social media, Miami influencers discuss solutions

Panel members Tracy Wilson Mourning, founder of the Honey Shine Mentoring Program and David Lawrence Jr., chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, participate in a panel on possible solutions to raising kids healthy in South Florida at St. Roch Market Miami in the Design District, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.
Panel members Tracy Wilson Mourning, founder of the Honey Shine Mentoring Program and David Lawrence Jr., chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, participate in a panel on possible solutions to raising kids healthy in South Florida at St. Roch Market Miami in the Design District, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. Special for the Miami Herald

A so-called loneliness epidemic among U.S. teens, which has driven a growing number of experts to warn about spending too much time on social media, is frustrating local youth and mentors as they seek to bump awareness of mental health.

It is these concerns that brought together a group of Miami influencers and nonprofit leaders on Tuesday night to exchange experiences in raising today’s generation of young adults in a panel discussion, “How Can We Motivate Our Kids?”

This was the first iteration of “90 Minutes of Solutions,” a series of talks that pair overwhelming problems with crowd-sourced solutions. The series was presented by speaker and entrepreneur Seanne Murray of Seanne Murray Enterprises, who launched it first in California, sponsored by Mercedes Benz of Beverly Hills. Miami’s Design District is her second stop.

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Panel moderator Seanne N. Murray gives an opening remark during a panel a discussion panel about possible solutions to raising kids healthy in South Florida at St. Roch Market Miami in the Design District, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. SAM NAVARRO Special for the Miami Herald

“Motivation and interest leads to the development of projects,” Murray told the crowd of about 20 people who met at the St. Roch Market. The point is to offer solutions, she said, “rather than complaining about having problems... That day ends today.”

Youth leaders at The Children’s Trust in Miami also joined the conversation, speaking about their own struggles separating themselves from social media and connecting to an older generation that grew up with different challenges.

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Kevin Cruz, a senior in high school and member of The Children’s Trust Youth Advisory Committee participates in a panel about possible solutions to raising kids healthy in South Florida at St. Roch Market Miami in the Design District, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. SAM NAVARRO Special for the Miami Herald

Kevin Cruz, a high school senior, said he felt it was important for parents to simply treat their children how they’d want to be treated themselves.

“We are what you put into us,” Cruz said. “If you give us love, we will give love back.”

Also leading the open talk were local advocates like Dave Lawrence, chairman of The Children’s Movement of Florida and former publisher of the Miami Herald; Tracy Wilson Mourning, founder of the girl empowerment nonprofit Honey Shine; and filmmaker Gil Green.

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American music video director, Gil Green, talks during a panel about possible solutions to raising kids healthy in South Florida at St. Roch Market Miami in the Design District, on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. SAM NAVARRO Special for the Miami Herald

Wilson Mourning said that as a mother of three, she understood that racial inequities were an important aspect of loneliness in children, and that it was important to recognize the differences in raising black girls and boys.

“You have to know who you are and be OK with that,” Wilson Mourning said her mother once told her. “What I’m reminding my children consistently is … you are enough, you are OK, you are worthy.

“There’s an angst when you have a black and brown son... We might not want to talk about that but there is a different approach in how we raise our children, I’m speaking for three of them,” she said.

The next “90 Minutes of Solutions” is planned for February 2020, where a panel and audience members will discuss human trafficking, and is hoping to attract celebrity panelists like Ashton Kutcher and Common. A third panel is planned to discuss access to clean drinking water.

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