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Dr. Lisa Strohman on the five ways we can create a healthier relationship with technology

First, people need to educate themselves on the realities of how the technology industry is financed off of our total dependence on their products so that they can choose whether they are willing to continue the amount of time they spend on their devices. Second, working offline to develop a solid sense of self, absent […]



First, people need to educate themselves on the realities of how the technology industry is financed off of our total dependence on their products so that they can choose whether they are willing to continue the amount of time they spend on their devices. Second, working offline to develop a solid sense of self, absent from the constant comparisons that our social media access influences us to do is vital. Third, work with the technology programs that exist in apps that will help you take meditative breaks and limit or at a minimum honestly provide feedback on the amount of time you are online. Fourth, find an accountability partner that will do this work with you and find time for you offline to do activities. Spending time outside is so healing and having someone to do this with always helps. Finally, I would encourage everyone to commit to keeping a journal that you can reflect your mood changes when you are on and off technology so that you can accurately understand for yourself what the impact of your time online does to your mental wellbeing.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lisa Strohman, JD, PhD who has a background as an attorney, clinical psychologist, author, entrepreneur and was a Visiting Scholar with the FBI.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?

As a graduate student for the JD/PhD program I had the opportunity to work in both Congress and with the FBI as a visiting scholar in the profiling unit. In Congress, I was able to be a part of a successful bill that was passed and able to learn the complexities of the American legislative system first hand. My passion has always been with advocacy with children and understanding the issues that we face in policy change was very eye opening and critical in developing my interests with online safety for our society. My time with the FBI was literally life altering. I was assigned into the profiling unit in Quantico, at the time called CASKU (Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit) which was part of the NCAVC (National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes).

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

During my tenure with the FBI, first as an honors intern and then as a Visiting Scholar, I was mentored by the bureau’s top agent on school violence. I was in Quantico in 1999 when the Columbine tragedy struck and was able to be a part of the profiling of these two young men who had at that time, (prior to smart phones and main stream social media), posted a large majority of their hatred and plans on the crime online. Now, more than two decades later I have continued in my commitment in my career to helping families and future generations understand the great power of this technology and the potential dangers that also exist from these advances.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Currently I have several projects going, some in the space of online educational program for families and some in television. One of the more exciting projects is the one where I have been working with some very accomplished executives to create some investigative television programming in the space of social media and the tragedies that occur on a daily basis.

Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?

The more time that we are behind a computer or device the more we are seeing an increase in anxiety, depression and loss of self-esteem. There is also a clear correlation between the obesity rates in the United States with the release of the internet that relates to our more sedentary lifestyles and reduced need to be active.

Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?

First, people need to educate themselves on the realities of how the technology industry is financed off of our total dependence on their products so that they can choose whether they are willing to continue the amount of time they spend on their devices. Second, working offline to develop a solid sense of self, absent from the constant comparisons that our social media access influences us to do is vital. Third, work with the technology programs that exist in apps that will help you take meditative breaks and limit or at a minimum honestly provide feedback on the amount of time you are online. Fourth, find an accountability partner that will do this work with you and find time for you offline to do activities. Spending time outside is so healing and having someone to do this with always helps. Finally, I would encourage everyone to commit to keeping a journal that you can reflect your mood changes when you are on and off technology so that you can accurately understand for yourself what the impact of your time online does to your mental wellbeing.

51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of spam calls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?

Often times the spam calls and texts are picked up when we sign up online or is gathered by some app that we downloaded in their terms of service. With spam texts, simply type in “STOP” into the text strand and that automatically will take you off of that list. Calls are a bit different and there are 3 basic types:

  • Spammers: Unwanted callers that may be calling indiscriminately to a large number of recipients; sometimes includes callers to whom you’ve given consent to contact you
  • Robocallers: Automated, prerecorded phone messages
  • Fraud calls: An entity likely pretending to be someone they’re not with malicious intent

Many of the phone carriers either have a free service or a premium service ($) that you can subscribe to that will help block these calls for you. There are also many third party apps that also can be downloaded to help block these calls. On your own, you can block the numbers individually as they come in, which in some cases may be easy enough if you don’t have too many. You can also place your phone in the mode that only allows calls from your contacts, but this isn’t a viable option for many people that run businesses or have people outside their contact list call.

Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?

I strongly believe that with education and some action we can have a balanced relationship with technology. The push notifications that come with that buzz or tone is made to create a behavioral pairing that from an unconscious level we can’t help but be stimulated by to respond. However, if we train ourselves to ignore those cues and/or we turn off these push notifications then we are now more in charge of what information and content that we are truly interested in. It takes a bit of will power and an understanding of how and why social media defaults to these settings, but once you learn they are controlling and dictating how and when you use your phone you can will find the power to change.

80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?

Allowing your day to get hijacked by what the industry is setting your day into doesn’t allow you to have an effective morning routine that will instill you with peace, confidence, and the fortitude you need to have a positive emotional day. A large majority of the content that individuals will see first off in the morning relates to a news feed and or social media feeds that we know scientifically impacts us negatively in terms of anxiety and depression. Starting your day off getting outside air and morning sun whenever possible is ideal. If you are up early enough to spend the short amount of time to watch the sun rise, that is a highly effective way to start your day. As an aside, spending the time in the evening watching the sunset is also an amazing way to close your day. I suggest that people consider how often we have in our lifetime to watch a sunrise or see a sunset and to take these opportunities as the true gifts they are.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?

My favorite life lesson quote came from my grandmother who helped raise me for a significant portion of my life. In dealing with some challenging times, she said, “Sometimes life gives you a mess that needs a broom and sometimes life sends you a mess that needs a street cleaner, all you need to learn is which tools to bring to clean it up.”

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I am praying that my mantra of Educate, Empower and Inspire in connection with my Digital Citizen Academy programs will be enough to create a global movement that will provide not only educational and empowerment to a generation of kids that are and were handed technology without any boundaries or regard for their mental well-being and will inspire others to join the cause in ensuring we have resources for the mental health needs that this technology revolution has left in its wake.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Twitter: @DrLisaStrohman @DCAorganization

Facebook: Dr. Lisa Strohman and Digital Citizen Academy

LinkedIn: Dr. Lisa Strohman

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