Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 149 | July 6, 2021
How Do You Define Your Self Worth
Dr. Lisa Strohman
Founder/CEO at Digital Citizen Academy
Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. On today’s episode I have the pleasure to have as my guest, Dr. Lisa Strohman, who is a Clinical Psychologist, author, public speaker, and the Founder of The Digital Citizen Academy. Dr. Strohman was a visiting scholar for the FBI working on homicidal pedophilia when the Columbine tragedy occurred, giving her an opportunity to be on the front lines of how technology impacts our youth. She has continued to work with law enforcement and the FBI on safety and cyber crimes involving adolescents, while also lending her knowledge and guidance to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She established The Digital Citizen Academy to proactively prevent and develop curriculum for educators and parents on the issues resulting from technology use and misuse. Dr. Strohman is a frequent speaker on the topic of digital technology and its effects on adolescents and has appeared on TV shows and other media outlets. In addition, she has a new podcast called, The Point with Dr. Lisa Strohman.
Lisa takes us through her career, getting her Juris Doctor degree, Ph.D in psychology working with children and working for the FBI, Dr. Orsini brings up the documentary-drama, The Social Dilemma, and Lisa explains how we get manipulated and addicted by technology. She explains how science is involved in how it affects your brain. She explains how time spent on social media platforms produces changes in the dopamine receptors of your brain that are very similar to people who are addicted to drugs. The numbers of suicides are escalating in children, especially with the internet and bullying, and Lisa shares with us just how bad they are. We hear a story about a girl named Molly Russell, who sadly took her life at the young age of fourteen, and what influenced her to do this. . We hear advice from Lisa about teaching our kids that tech is a tool, and to know your value as a parent. Find out more about the Digital Citizen Academy as Lisa explains the incredible programs they offer for K-12, as well as the foundation they rely on to help sponsor programming in the schools . We end with Lisa sharing with us the most difficult conversation she’s ever had and how she navigated through it. If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit follow, and download all the previous episodes.
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Dr. Lisa Strohman (1s):
So what technology does, is it really with the notifications and those bumps in those, all of those things, it’s actually creating a loop of anticipation and it really isn’t the part that like we’re fuels it in the end. And that’s where I think when parents see I’m going to put my kid on ABC mouse, when they’re three and four years old, and they’re like, it’s an educational program. That’s teaching them their letters. What it’s really doing is teaching them that pleasure pathway and that they get a sticker at the end or learning how to draw their letters. And so, as a parent, you need to understand when to cut it off because the minute you see your kid attaching that anticipatory reward system, you’ve got a kid that’s already starting to get into that addictive loop.
Welcome to Difficult Conversations: Lessons I learned as an ICU physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr. Orsini is a practicing physician and president and CEO of The Orsini Way. As a frequent keynote speaker and author, Dr. Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders how to navigate through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether you are a doctor faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members, or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better this is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 27s):
Well, I am honored today that the or way has partnered with The Finley Project to bring you this episode of difficult conversations lessons I learned as an ICU physician. The Finley Project is a nonprofit organization committed to providing care for mothers who have experienced the unimaginable, the loss of an infant. It was created by their founder, Noelle Moore, whose sweet daughter Finley died in 2013. It was at that time that Noelle realized that there was a large gap between leaving the hospital without your baby and the time when you get home, that led her to start The Finley Project. The Finley Project is the nation’s only seven part holistic program that helps mothers after infant loss, by supporting them physically and emotionally. They provide such things as mental health counseling, funeral arrangements, support, grocery gift cards, professional house cleaning, professional massage therapy and support group placement. The Finley Project has helped hundreds of women across the country.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 23s):
And I can tell you that I have seen personally how The Finley Project has literally saved the lives of mothers who lost their infant. If you’re interested in learning more or referring a family or donating to this amazing cause please go to The Finley Project.org. The Finley Project believes that no family should walk out of a hospital without support. Well, welcome to another episode of difficult conversations lessons I learned as an ICU physician. This is Dr. Anthony Orsini, and I’ll be your host again this week. Today, I have the absolute pleasure to have as my guest, Dr. Lisa Strohman. Dr. Strohman is a clinical psychologist, author, public speaker, and the founder and director of digital citizen academy, which we’re going to talk about today.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 11s):
She has a PhD in psychology from Drexel university and a law degree at Villanova university. Dr. Stroman was a visiting scholar for the FBI, working on homicide of pedophilia. When the Columbine tragedy occurred, giving her the opportunity to be on the front lines of how technology impacts our youth. She has continued to work with law enforcement and the FBI on safety and cyber crimes involving adolescents while also lending her knowledge and guidance to the national center for missing and exploited children. Dr. Stroman established the digital citizen academy to proactively prevent and develop curriculum for educators and parents on the issues resulting from technology use and misuse.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 54s):
Dr. Strohman has spent more than a decade working with adolescents and families in our private practice and a career working with schools to address challenges with student mental health and wellbeing. As a frequent speaker on the topic of digital technology and its effects on adolescents, and as appeared multiple times on Newsmax TV, the Dr. Drew show and many other media outlets. I first met her in March when we were speakers at a TEDx event in Phoenix, and we instantly hit it off. I’ve been on her new podcast called The Point that Dr. Lisa and we have become friends in a very short period of time. And that’s why I’m so excited to have her on our episode today, so she can share her knowledge.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 35s):
And I promise you this episode’s going to blow you away. So without further delay, Lisa, thank you so much for coming today.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (4m 41s):
Absolutely happy to be here.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 42s):
This is great. I was just on your brand new podcast called The Point. And that, that was exciting to be interviewed by you. And it seems like now we’re just going back and forth, and this is great.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (4m 52s):
Yeah. It’s exciting. The podcast circuit,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (4m 55s):
When I met you, you were holding out on me because we were all giving Ted talks and we were all kind of nervous. And you know TEDx is a very different kind of lecture that I’m not used to giving. And you never told anybody, you were a second timer until I Googled you. And I was like, she wasn’t even that nervous. You were just pretending.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (5m 11s):
Well, I was a little nervous. I mean, I think that the TEDx GCU with student run for the first time. So I did give another Ted talk in 2016 and I did swear that I would never do it again because as you and I both know, it’s a very different forum than just speaking your mind and going out and sharing your passion with people. So, and
Dr. Anthony Orsini (5m 31s):
I also found the Ted talk being your first one, it looked like was about 16 minutes and Phoenix, you and I were limited to 10 minutes and you know, a famous quote by mark Twain. If you want me to speak for a few minutes, it’ll take me days to prepare. But if you want me to speak for an hour, I can do it right now, paraphrasing, of course. But did you find that was harder to do the 10 minutes than the 16 minutes?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (5m 52s):
Much harder. It’s an art to share a message even in a 60 minute, we had an 18 minute window in the first Ted talk and that’s pretty, I think ubiquitous for Ted talks, they’re usually 18 minutes and the GCU one because of COVID, they were trying to fit more people and do more in less. And I think that nobody but us really realize the stress that that caused.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (6m 13s):
Yeah. For those of you out there, haven’t done a Ted talk, you’d get assigned a coach. And so you show your speech and you write and you send it to your coach. And, and in my case, my coach was Kylie and she was amazing. And Kylie kept saying too long, then I’d shorten it again still too long. I sure like, but I have so much to say, so every word has to count with Ted talk. So it was kind of funny, but I’ve heard those words. You have to know those words and you can’t get them wrong because it’s, you don’t have time to recover. So that was quite an experience. We had a great time and it went off really impeccably. And you said as it was student run and wow, did they do an amazing job for students? I don’t think I could have done. I’m still not that organized many years later.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (6m 54s):
I don’t know how they did it all. So I wanted to ask you, I didn’t know this about you till I started researching you Drexel and Villanova. Are you a Philadelphia person?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (7m 2s):
I’m not. I grew up in Northern California and I went to undergrad at UC Davis and I was in all sorts of programs there for psychology. And I had a professor who said, you should probably get a JD because you liked this policy work. I worked with autistic children at the time. I had a family that had four biological autistic children and fifth from a separate marriage. And I helped them through policy and placements. And so she’s like, you know, a law degree would be a good idea. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into. So at the time there was three programs, Nebraska, Philadelphia, and Florida. Those were my three choices. And so we ended up in Philly.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (7m 39s):
So you spent how many years in Philadelphia? Because I was there for medical school, residency and fellowship. So I was there for 10 years.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (7m 47s):
Oh my goodness. I actually, because my husband was a medical student in Philadelphia at MCP Honamin at the time I did a six-year program in four years and got out. Otherwise he would have had to do his residency there.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (7m 59s):
I liked Philadelphia. I didn’t appreciate it when I was there, because all I was doing was studying and working. But I am a big, big pat steaks person and loves Philadelphia. Yeah. Are you a Geno’s person?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (8m 11s):
No, I’m kidding. I’m as Pat’s person actually just causing some controversy.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (8m 16s):
It is the number one tourist attraction in Philadelphia. I don’t know if he knew that Pat’s and Geno’s and every time across the street from each other, I’d meet my friends there. We do a blind taste test. And then either as people from Philadelphia now, either you are a Pat’s person for life or a Geno’s person for life, and there’s fisticuffs sometimes going over that, just in that argument. So anyway, we’re digressing here, so, but that’s Philadelphia. I do miss Philadelphia. So take us back. So now you got your JD, you got your psychology, you’re working with children’s and adolescents, and then you were also working for the FBI, right? And then something happened. Columbine, tell us how that kind of evolved.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (8m 57s):
So I was assigned, I applied for an honors intern program hip for the FBI, and I was assigned to the unit in Quantico that is called CASKU, child abduction serial killer unit as part of the national center for the analysis of violent crime. And I was really fortunate. That was a summer program. It was paid. I thought it was super wealthy. I was getting like $700 a month or something. Maybe every two weeks. It was very, you. It felt very enriched at the time. And it was just incredible. And at the time the director was Louie Freeh, who had, I think, six or seven kids at the time. And he liked my work. He thought it was very thorough and the unit themselves liked me a lot. And they offered me to come on and do my dissertation in combination with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on infant abduction.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (9m 44s):
So I went from a honors intern program over to a dissertation project as a visiting scholar with the FBI. And that was in total about five and a half more years as I finished up my PhD and started the research in infant abduction, which was like profiling why people steal babies from hospitals, which is your area? My husband, I didn’t have children for 16 years. It terrified me things that were going on, but that’s how I got into the FBI and why I was there for so long and why I was kind of introduced to this technology psychology issue at the time when I was there.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 16s):
And then Columbine happens and you’re asked to speak about the technology that would devolve tell us about how technology was involved in the Columbine incident.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (10m 25s):
So from a standpoint of where we were as an investigator is Columbine happened in April, the FBI and their involvement didn’t happen until months later because the federal unit, the CASKU unit, you know, the profilers were given all of the information from the local law enforcement. And by the time that all came together and they were asked to quote unquote, profile Dylan and Eric, as the shooters, all of the information that came out, you saw in that situation, that one of the kids, Eric Harris was definitely the lead in that situation when he had at the time posted like kind of a manifesto and had done tapes.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (11m 5s):
And there’s all these things because the internet had just started there still wasn’t my space. There still wasn’t any social media at the time that happened. But there was a lot of things that he was posting into these kinds of websites that he was creating and they had been arrested 18 months prior. And so there’s this history of kind of just seeing these two kids that were one was kind of apathetic and kind of lost and where he was, which was Dylan. And then Eric, who is kind of the shorter kid that was bullied a lot and picked on Dylan was like six, three or six, two is very tall and they just kind of connected and kind of the rest is history. But we, that we were given all that information or the unit was given all that information, I should say.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (11m 46s):
And the profilers that worked in that were the ones that kind of digested all of it and had all of the postings and technology. And from an observation point, I could just see how easily somebody can be manipulated and shifted in their mindset from a pretty normal mental state, into this very evil and hurtful and really pained existence to want to go and hurt people and prove a point.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (12m 15s):
The conversation about social media is getting more and more intense. And I think the movie, the social dilemma I guess, was called the social dilemma, kind of a lot of people are watching that now, but you were way ahead of that curve way back in 2017, when you gave your first Ted talk, you talk about addiction. And I think it’s funny. What were you addicted to at the time at nine years old, a video game?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (12m 40s):
On Atari, yeah.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (12m 41s):
An Atari video game addiction, it was really a great presentation. So tell us about really how we get addicted, the social dilemma talked about that, but how we are all being manipulated. It’s something we don’t want to talk about, but it’s actually happening.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (12m 55s):
Yeah. I mean, I think it was important. I mean, in that Ted talk, I talk about really about how my family background, my parents, both my parents were alcoholics. My mom was addicted to drugs as well. My grandmother at the time we, my parents divorced when I was five. She was the one who noticed that my personality type, which is very type A, wanting to button everything up on everything. It was pitfall at the time. And I would not every single time I missed a jump, Harry swinging through the jungle. I would start the game over again. Oh my gosh. It was incredible four colors. And the graphics were a little pixelated at the time, but the same thing with piano, like I would play a piece on piano at the time.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (13m 39s):
And if I mess something up, I’d go right back to the beginning. I have to start over again. And so she noticed in that pattern in me, she was like, listen, like you should know that both of your parents have this addictive personality. And I don’t think she was born in 1906. And so she was, she lived with on and off with me for like 12 years. I think she didn’t know why she saw it, but she knew that I needed to be careful. And so that conversation with her and the time that I spent with her from that moving forward made me always look at choices I was making in life and what was influencing me. And to understand that I had that addictive potential. And I have a lot of degrees after my name now. And I work a lot of hours. I have three different companies that I run, you know, I haven’t gotten rid of that addiction potential.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (14m 22s):
I’ve just fueled other things that are more proactive in life than the things that are more negative in life. So I think it’s understanding that’s to your point, like technology can be an addiction and we have to look at our family history and we have to look at how technology is built to create addiction in those that don’t have that background and the realities are, we are for sure getting taken over in this industry and they don’t care how much carnage or damage it causes because it’s money. And it’s a lot of money.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (14m 54s):
Although your grandma was born in 19 something and probably never was even on the internet, she was way ahead of the science. So there’s actually science involved in how this affects your brain, right?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (15m 5s):
Tons of science. Yeah. They go in basically and recognize that dopamine pleasure pathway. They actually know how to hack in and people don’t always, they talk about those things that if you think about a text message and how it buzzes, they think that when we get a reward that we have this huge spike of pleasure in our system, and that’s what like makes it actually build the stronger addictive potential. But what we understand now is it’s the anticipation of the reward. So the buzz or the beep or any of those things, it’s not actually that Tony just messaged me. It’s like, oh my gosh, I wonder who messaged me? And then I’m like, oh, it’s Tony. Like, you know, so it’s not the who it is. Although I’d be very excited to see that you sent me a text message.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (15m 47s):
Thank You, Lisa. I was waiting for that. A compliment. My self worth just went up.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (15m 53s):
We’ll talk about that later, but it’s anticipation. And so what technology does, is it really with the notifications and those bumps and those, all of those things, it’s actually creating a loop of anticipation. And it really isn’t the part that like fuels it in the end. And that’s where I think when parents see I’m going to put my kid on ABC mouse when they’re three and four years old and they’re like, it’s an educational program. That’s teaching them their letters. What it’s really doing is teaching them that pleasure pathway and that they get a sticker at the end of learning how to draw their letters. And so as a parent, you need to understand that they need to understand when to cut it off because the minute you see your kid attaching that anticipatory reward system, you’ve got a kid that’s already starting to get into that addictive loop.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (16m 41s):
It’s really as a parent and we’ve all fallen into this. It’s very easy. You know, when you’re at the restaurant, the kids are acting up, they’re throwing their food and, you know, to throw the, the iPad in front of the kid and let her play or let him play. But I think now maybe thanks to people like you, we’re starting to realize that we are doing damage to these kids, but it’s also happening to adults. They knew something about a couple of hours a day, took our social media.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (17m 9s):
Yeah. More so the number of times it’s super easy now with most of the iOS systems or even on the Google system or the Android systems, you can check your screen time use, but anything over two hours, a day of what I call kind of the junk food of social media, like anything you’re doing, that’s not academic or something that’s more creative or things like that are building you up actually starts to cause damage in your neurons. And it actually, you can see the structural and the neurotransmitters changing in your system. So we have to be really careful on, on how much you spend on those social media platforms.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (17m 44s):
The brain changes. You showed pictures on your first TEDx. Talk about the changes that happened in your dopamine receptors of your brain are very similar to people who are addicted to drugs. Correct?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (17m 53s):
Absolutely. And that’s my biggest message and my biggest frustration of why we’re not doing programming that we know scientifically makes a difference in kids is because I can see that what we used to be fearful of that gateway into drugs. Like people talked about like pot being the gateway or alcohol, being the gateway into future drug use. Now I’m looking at it and saying like, no technology actually is your gateway into later drug use. Because once you amplify that dopamine reward pathway in children, as young as like seven, eight or nine, you’re going to get this open door into the world of porn and drug addiction. I mean, and Snapchat. Now, if you have a kid that’s on Snapchat, like they’re constantly advertising to those kids about how to get drugs and how to get a plug to deliver it to you.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (18m 38s):
So it’s like Uber drugs or Uber delivery for kids. So I warned parents all the time and I feel like those of us that listen and slow down and take the messaging, right? We could be saving generations of kids moving forward, but it’s hard to get that message out.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (18m 52s):
That’s a good segue into the second Ted talk that you gave. How do we define our self worth and how that relates to children? The numbers are alarming about the number of suicides that are up and how many of them are related to the internet and bullying that. Tell us more about how bad this really is,
Dr. Lisa Strohman (19m 10s):
Right? I’ve never been more busy in my career than the last well, the last year during the pandemic was awful. But I think for five years prior to that, like just seeing the escalation of suicidal thinking, suicidal attempts, suicidal groups, like where you’re talking about, like kids kind of banding together. I just had a case a couple of weeks ago about a mass suicide pact where, you know, just one kid was like, Hey, why don’t we all commit mass suicide? And they sent it out to five different high schools. And we had at least one kid from every high school two were successful in committing suicide. Two ended up in the ICU for an extended period of time and a couple ended up in the hospital, but released. And so to me as a parent, you know, if we’re willing to let our children on these devices and we’re willing to allow them to have access to it, you’re giving up your voice over the voice of other 10, 12, 13, whatever the age is to influence your child.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (20m 7s):
And if you’re okay with that, then I would say, you know, again, I’m not a parent for your child and a parent for my own child, but you need to know the facts. And the facts are that kids are impulsive. Kids are failing and their ability to have resilience. And they’re really struggling to figure out who their identity is. And the context of 7.2 billion people in the world, 5.5 billion of which are on social media every day. So it’s a really big crowd for them to feel special in. And so I think that’s why we’re seeing the numbers escalate so much because it feels like you’re nobody and that’s hard as a kid.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (20m 45s):
20 years ago, was the school cafeteria. If you didn’t fit in, or if you were bullied or you weren’t part of the cool crowd. I think that half an hour of lunch where you had to sit by yourself where you didn’t know what table to sit at was pure hell. And now it seems like the internet is a 24 7 cafeteria where people are constantly excluding you and making mean comments. And so bullying has gotten to be really an epidemic in children. And it’s really quite sad. I didn’t, you tell me in our last little one, or you interviewed me that you’re doing something in Colorado now with the increased rates of suicide is so high.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (21m 20s):
I’ve had a really strong relationship in Vail with a group up there. There’s a couple of different nonprofits up there that are dealing with it. Their hospitals actually are in a crisis level. They’ve had to shut down. There’s no more beds available for teens up there because of suicide attempts are so high. So they just created this whole, like, you know, kind of mass distribution. And I don’t know how to get people to listen, you know, louder and like more effectively of like, we have to start putting dollars into prevention, but you and I have talked about this. We talked about it on my podcast when I interviewed you. And I encouraged people listened to that one because I think we’re both frustrated that people are willing to identify the problem, but they’re not willing to put in the dollars to change the system.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 1s):
Yeah. Lisa and I talked about how we both seem like we’re on top of a mountain, top screaming, but no one’s listening. We’re trying to help. But you know, back to the school cafeteria analogy, when a teacher saw that girl or the boy junior high boy or girl or senior, I’m sitting by themselves, at least it was obvious and someone would reach out and maybe they were guidance counselors to help. But when it’s happening on the internet, parents don’t know. And you told a story about Molly Russell. So tell us about her.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (22m 27s):
Yeah. I love your analogy in that. But Molly Russell was a young girl. She was in school. She’s 14 years old. Her parents like from the outside, didn’t really see anything. She had two other sisters, I’m sure, you know, going through life, having a house full of teenage girls was hard already having just one in my household is super challenging at times. And the parents, you know, would see that she was getting kind of more withdrawn and you know, her normal kind of happy, enthusiastic future thinking is how her dad described her was something that they had seen for years. And that, you know, she became a teenager and started spending a little bit more time in a room and they didn’t really know what she was doing online. They didn’t know what was influencing her.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (23m 9s):
And it took them two years sadly to get a court order in a subpoena to be able, even to open up her social media and identified that she had put in terms like depression depressed. And that once you do that, and this is where that the movie social dilemma really identifies and shows that algorithm. But once you start to search terms, whatever that is the algorithm, basically, particularly with young kids only has that to understand what you’re interested in. So if I type in horses, it’s going to send me pictures of various horses. If I type in depression or suicidal, it’s going to only know that I want to learn more about that. And what happened with Molly Russell is that algorithm took over and basically flooded her influence.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (23m 50s):
And every single suggested link was based on suicide depression, and it got darker and darker. And eventually I think that influenced her into obviously to take her own life. Sadly,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (24m 2s):
They were social media, censoring, everyone. You would think that they can stop that, that there’s the technology to stop flooding someone who’s maybe searching suicide
Dr. Lisa Strohman (24m 12s):
A hundred percent. They absolutely have the ability to do that. They absolutely have the ability financially. It’s not something that makes a cost-effective response to them to change whether it’s pornographic, suicidal graphic in nature of like bloody or things like that. Like they made efforts to pixelate out, you know, a wrist that has been slit or, you know, a bloody finger or face or things like that. But they don’t delete posts. They allow the posts to exist and only pixelate at which if you can imagine with a teenager that makes them even more curious and it makes them even dive in deeper. So it hasn’t been fixed psychologically. It is incredibly frustrating because we know how easy it is to change it from a technological standpoint.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (24m 55s):
And they just won’t do it because we don’t have enough voice and we don’t have the power legislatively to change it.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 1s):
Molly’s parents had no idea. So here’s a question for you. I had on this podcast, a man named Joshua Wayne early on, maybe the first 10 episodes, Joshua works with troubled teenagers. And I had asked him the same question, but there’s this debate, I guess, among parents about privacy with the adolescent child and how much you should try to be involved. And I’ve had debates with other parents, you know, about, you know, we used to make sure that our children showed us their social media and it wasn’t always so popular. And there were a lot of fights in the house. And, you know, my father was a police officer and the SWAT team and his saying, when we were growing up was in this house, you believed to be lying until proven otherwise that’s where he used to bring us up.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (25m 48s):
And so there was really no privacy, per se. Of course we had some, but parents are caught between this. You know, I want to give my child privacy, but I also want to make sure that I know what’s going on. And perhaps maybe if Molly’s social media was available to them, I don’t know. I’m not second guessing, but how do you walk that tightrope?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (26m 7s):
Yeah. I mean, I think that’s interesting. I always say trust, but verify in my house with my own kids.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 11s):
My father was the other way around. He automatically assumed you were lying. You had to prove it.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (26m 16s):
I like that. I’m thinking about shifting it now that I have two teenagers. I think that from a standpoint, the kids don’t have privacy anymore. Sadly. I mean, I think some of the speaking I do nationally is really about privacy terms. Like what kids are willing to give up. They don’t have any privacy. The only privacy that they’re looking for is from their parents. And I feel as though I’ve been very neutral in the sense of, I don’t like to tell parents what to do, but as I get older and as my kids get older, I feel more strongly of taking a stand and saying, you’re an idiot. If you don’t look at your kid’s social media and if you don’t have access to it, and if you don’t know your kid’s ID password, I mean, one of the kids that was ended up in the ICU and this mass suicide, the parents had no idea how to access his phone.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (26m 58s):
And the really, the only thing that he wanted when he woke up was to check on his social media and how many responses he got based on him posting that he was, you know, he took 50 pills and I said, you don’t have the password to your kid’s phone and you will not get in that phone, apple. They will not give you the password to access that kid’s phone. And so from a standpoint, as a parent, very strongly now, and as a professional is your kid’s password. And being able to access their phone is a given and a must. We should not let them have carte blanche. And to me, everything that you post online is something that you should anticipate that a parent will see. I used to be a little bit more neutral, but I’m not anymore given the crisis that we’re at.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (27m 38s):
We used to say to our kids, if you’re afraid, someone’s going to find out that you did or said something that probably you shouldn’t have done it in the first place. You know, that’s a good guide. And so maybe if, you know, your parent has your password, maybe you won’t, I’ve been in debates over a glass of wine with other parents that are good friends with mine, who used to tell us, you know, you’re crazy because your kids have a right to privacy. And I said, well, I never did and I turned out okay. You know? And there were a lot of things that I probably would’ve done bad or maybe went offline, but I was total fear of my father that kept me in line. And I’m grateful to that.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (28m 14s):
So, and I think it’s apparent. I think it’s interesting. I think it’s a lot more onerous and difficult as a parent to be that parent who does establish those tighter boundaries and oversees what their kids are doing. And there’s a movie actually that got terrible reviews that I thought was fantastic called men, women and children. And it had Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman and Adam Sandler. And it got terrible reviews because it was so realistic. And Jennifer Gardner’s character was basically checking her daughter’s phone every day and looking at text message scripts. And it was like way too far on the monitoring. And then there was another mom that didn’t monitor at all. And the daughter turned into this basically online stripper that was selling her body for sex.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (28m 58s):
And so it was like somewhere in between as parents, we have to land
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 2s):
Hard because it’s not very popular with the teenager to say, let me see your phone. That’s not going to go over. Well, that’ll be a fight. And you know, in his parents, I mean, I’ve gone through three teenagers. You say, you have to, the best word I can say to having a teenager is exhausting. I mean, you’re just fighting to keep them with you. Joshua Wayne said he had great advice for teenagers. He said, they’re going to get their advice from a lot of other people. And the best that you can hope for is to have a seat at the table. And I always found that’s a great advice, especially in the troubled teenagers. So let’s get back to, because this is really distressing me right now. So we’re being, our minds are being manipulated by digital, but it’s really our teenagers and our adolescents that were worried about the suicide rate is up and I’d never watched it.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (29m 50s):
But I heard a lot of this stuff about the movie, 13 reasons why that’s a, just a horrific, why would Netflix ever put that on is just beyond me, but it just goes to show you that what runs this world is money and our teenagers are being manipulated. What’s the best advice that you can give to not a teenage parent, but a parent of a teenager. But even, you know, I have this three-year-old, who’s grabbing at my phone. What can we do to maybe stop those dopamine receptors from going away? Totally.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (30m 20s):
My best advice is always like tech as a tool. And I think that if you can teach kids why tech can be manipulative, if you give the teenager or the, even the five or six year old, the reasons why they tend to follow that line, kids inherently want their parents to be proud of them. They really do. Even as teenagers, they do, they want us to care. They want us to show up, even when they tell us that we’re the biggest idiots in the world and that we know nothing. And of course in their lives, we do know nothing at that age, but the reality is kids really want you to be happy with them and they want to be able to do the right thing. And what I found, even in this program that I created is that kids, when they know the line and they know the reasons why and how they’re being manipulated, they actually stand up and take a voice.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (31m 5s):
So a super cool example of that was I went to, gave a talk to a school and I talked to, I think it was fifth through eighth graders. And I said, here are the terms of Snapchat. Here are the terms that you’re agreeing to. Here’s how they’re using your data. Here’s how they’re they can resell it. They can repackage it. Here’s why you have no privacy. And I took those legal terms and I basically translated them into kid’s terms. And I said, here’s what you need to know. You are the largest cohort in our history with the largest amount of technology use and dependence ever. And they’re making the rules. You have far more power than they do because the millennial generation isn’t big enough to control you. And if you took a stand and you were able to make those choices, you actually could make a difference.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (31m 49s):
And out of that talk, I had 600 kids on Valentine’s day, write a message through Snapchat and all deleted their accounts at 12:01 PM together to make a stance. Now, I don’t think that they probably all kept them deleted, but they said, we love ourselves more than we love your platform. And they deleted it altogether as a message to Snapchat at the time. And that was cool. That was super cool to get in. My that’s. My biggest messaging is just know your value as a parent tech, as a tool. And it shouldn’t be used to manipulate you. And it shouldn’t be used as a trade. Whether it’s like, again, kids are spent sending naked pictures and they’re doing all these things on technology that is felonies, you know, misdemeanors, like all of these things that can happen, teach them those rules, teach them those hard lines on what electronic harassment is, what child solicitation of pornography is like, just teach them the hard lines.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (32m 42s):
They won’t do it. Kids don’t want to break the rules,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 45s):
It goes back to knowing the why. And when we talk about, on this episode and many other episodes about the conversation, whether you are a business leader or you’re a physician, or you’re a teacher or your parent, when you ask someone to do something, if you’ve explained to them the why, as you just showed with those teens, they all dropped their Facebooks and their social media, even if it was for temporary, but now they understand. And it’s not just mom being a jerk telling me to get off my phone. Tell us about the digital citizen academy. What kind of programs do you have there and not just tell us about how that works?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (33m 19s):
Yeah, so digital citizen academy was something I picked out. Like I, again, I wanted kids to have a voice, so it’s a K through 12 program. We have a peer mentoring program because I always find out that is exciting as it is for me to go up on stage and talk to the kids, talking to each other is far more effective. So if you look up DC foundation.org, it is our foundation piece where we basically rely on business leaders and individuals to help sponsor programming into schools. And every grade has its own unit. So we go through and base everything on the think strategy, truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. And so we say like, do we always want to be truthful online? And we teach little kids. It’s like, maybe we shouldn’t tell people our home address and that’s not being dishonest or not being truthful.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (34m 3s):
It’s because on technology we want, we need to know where our line of truth should be. And those kinds of things of like, how do we create kind digital citizens online? And how do we recognize as they get older and maybe fifth, sixth, seventh grade? How do we recognize if one of our peers is struggling? What if they put a post out there that says that they want to kill themselves? How do we, as, as adults recognize that peers sometimes are the ones that burden that stress and knowledge that the, that their peer or their classmates is thinking about hurting themselves. We definitely want to help them have the tools on how do we get that information to the adults that can help. So that’s what we did, DC foundation.org as a site that talks about it. And my goal is to help this generation grow up and become the leaders in this piece of creating new content and helping themselves understand the world online.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (34m 52s):
Fantastic. Where are you, how many programs do you have so far?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (34m 56s):
I’ve done thousands of, I think our beta test was 10,000 students that we tested in and that was just in Arizona alone. And that’s when we figured out that in a middle school alone, we had a thousand kids and that was our very first micro test. And we saw that when you taught the kids these lines and gave them lessons that were appropriate for online, we reduced technology-related infractions for that school by 72%. And we pretty much hold about that level when we like did the mass beta. And that was about 8,000 8,500 more so 9,500 students where we’re reducing that amount. So now we’ve got our program in Florida, California, Arizona, Colorado, like just everywhere that we can figure out people who want to make a difference in their community.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (35m 40s):
They reach out and we try to make it happen for them.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (35m 43s):
Lisa, I’m thinking that this should be everywhere. I’m thinking that this, if you remember, I’m trying to think about how many years ago, 15, 20 years ago, when we started going into high schools and doing these programs, showing automobile accidents with the whole thing, they’d actually bring a car in that was totally crushed and say, you know, here’s a story of John who was drinking and driving, and this is what happened to him. And this is why you should wear your seatbelt. That program has been very popular and very successful. I mean, my kids never knew what it’s like to be in a car without a seatbelt. And although I still think that dopamine surge, when the phone text comes through, when you’re driving is still really hard to not pick up, I think they’re at least aware of that.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (36m 26s):
And so we’re going to have this program everywhere, because I think if they know about this, it’s going to be just like wearing the seatbelt.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (36m 32s):
I agree with you. The problem is when you come through and you have schools that are like overrun and they don’t have enough time in the day to teach content, this is like five lessons. Each it takes about an hour and a half to get through all five lessons. If you did it on a sequential basis, like that’s what I suggest for the schools. It’s not a lot of time, but they basically, if they can hand out a piece of paper that says, here’s the 10 things you need to know about digital citizenship and the kid reads it, they can check it off on their core standards and say that we actually did education. So they just cut corners and they don’t give the kids the voice again, give them the power to make these choices and understand it in the way that we teach math and English, because it is just as important.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (37m 14s):
I mean, imy book of teaching kids, how, because technology is our future. We have to let them understand it in the same way as they have the foundation with math and English and science,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 24s):
My blood pressure’s going up right now, because this is my world of trying to get people to stop being near-sighted, you know, they want to check the box and say, yeah, I gave the student a piece of paper. And if he or she gets addicted to technology, it’s not my problem because she checked the box and we all could agree that this can prevent suicides. This can prevent depression. This will decrease our medical costs. And everybody says, yeah, we all agree on that. And then we go, okay, well the program costs X amount of dollars and well, maybe it’s not so important. And it just, you and I talked about this before, it drives me crazy. Cause this is my world.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (37m 59s):
Honestly, like through the foundation, we do it through as a cost measure. And it’s like $5 a kid. I mean, it’s literally less than most people at Starbucks. Like bill, when they go in and say, we don’t have time. Yeah. We don’t have time. We don’t have funding. Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (38m 15s):
It’s just crazy. You know, as with my work with physicians and healthcare professionals and talking to hospitals saying, listen, if we can teach your doctors how to have better relationships, you will literally save millions of dollars in malpractice lawsuits and medical errors will go down and they all go. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. But we don’t have $5, you know, so it’s not really that important, but someone comes in and said, wow, this brand new TV that you can put in the waiting room and it’s really kind of cool. They’ll go. Yeah. How much is it? 10 grand not buy it. It just drives me crazy. So I’m sorry, but I’m getting a little hyped up right now.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (38m 47s):
Oh, then I get it. I mean like the art budget in most hospitals, like when you walk in and people don’t think about like the artwork on the walls and how that’s a contract and people are bringing in artwork for that. And that’s usually hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital systems and you can’t pay someone to teach doctors how to be more empathic. I agree with you. I get super angry about that.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 7s):
And we throw so much money away back to schools. I had an uncle who was a principal in an inner city for many years. And he said to me, every time I complained that my, my scores go down, the government just throws more money at me and I buy more books and he opened up a closet one day and there were books to the ceiling. He’s got all these extra books he said, but that’s not the problem. The problem is we have to get parents involved in the education and we need some social. And yet no one wants to talk about what’s the word and phrase. I hate the most of those soft skills because they just want to buy something. You know, they want to buy the TV or the whatever. And it just, it’s so frustrating, but your program it’s been proven and it should be everywhere. It should be a no brainer. This is, I’m getting mad,
Dr. Lisa Strohman (39m 50s):
Built on social emotional because it’s me. And I basically hired 16 different teachers. And that, you know, did the K through 12. And a lot of my programming for my high school students is all based on what they felt was important. So for instance, one of the modules that we have now is on kind of the social justice reform and BLM and things like that and gives them context so that they’re looking at and connecting to actual news information, that’s been verified and it’s been something that we would like representative, like here’s the history of it. Here’s where you got to and let’s have them weigh in and have a conversation about it and lets them have a voice. I think again, I think that we write off kids too quickly in our world and we think that they’re just valuable and they’re going to do what we want versus letting them have a voice, even from young ages.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (40m 33s):
And again, technology is so important to them, but if they don’t understand why it’s in control and they’re not, then we’re not doing them a service at all.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (40m 43s):
Yeah. It’s all about the Simon Sinek. I’m a big Simon Sinek fan. Let them know the why. And if you let them know the why even young teenagers will get it. And, but we have to spend the time and the money, $5 a student, Lisa that’s ridiculous.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (40m 58s):
People are like, you should charge more and then they’ll probably buy it. Like I just want all the kids to get it. I don’t know. It’s not about the money for me. It’s about, these are the kids that are going to take care of us when we get older people. Like we have to understand if they’re not okay, we’re not going to be okay.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (41m 12s):
It has to be something that they put their hands on. So maybe you should try selling them a computer for $50,000 and give the class for free. And they’d probably say, oh, okay, we’ll do that. That’s crazy. So anyway, we can talk forever. At least we get to finish with the same question. I asked everyone at the end and that is, tell us about the most difficult type or most difficult conversation you’ve ever had. And give us some advice on how to navigate through that.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (41m 39s):
Good question. I did think about it a little bit before. I think one of the most difficult conversations that I’ve ever had to have was when I sat down with my own father, after not speaking to him for two years and said, I was sorry that I was a difficult teenager, that I really valued having him in my life versus not having him in my life and understanding that because he didn’t have the emotional capacity, he was in law enforcement as well. He didn’t have the emotional capacity to understand why I had anger and being upset. But as a PhD student at the time I, I said to him, I apologize for my end of it. And I appreciated what he was trying to do because like your father, he was a hard father.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (42m 19s):
He was black or white you’re right or wrong. And he was consistent. And I was not as very hard headed as you can imagine as i.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (42m 27s):
I thought you were such an angel, your whole life is I guess, no, I’m just kidding.
Dr. Lisa Strohman (42m 33s):
Well, and I think that he, again, it created a new relationship for us moving forward. And now he’s 86 and we talk regularly and I have a really good relationship with him. So I would say that sometimes the hardest conversations and the hardest things to approach in life are the ones where, you know, you’ve done wrong or you’ve had challenges on your end and that you have to own those. And you also have to make accommodations understanding that the person on the other side may not own their own. And I knew that he wouldn’t own what he had done in his life with me as a father, because he just didn’t have the capacity to do it. I love him anyway, obviously. And so I would say sometimes you just have to be willing to have some grace in those situations and for the better good of the relationship still have the conversation.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (43m 18s):
That’s great advice. As it been said before, when you don’t know what to say or how to start a difficult conversation, the best way to do that is to say, you’re sorry, and then shut up. I think that’s great advice. So Lisa, this has been amazing and what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you. Give us your website again, we’ll put that all in the show notes for those people who are driving will, how can people just can find out more about what you do?
Dr. Lisa Strohman (43m 40s):
Sure. My site, Dr. Lisa strohman.com, DRLISASTROHMAN.com is my personal site. And then the foundation, if anyone is listening and wants to help kids is DC foundation.org, and that’s a 5 0 1 C 3. You can donate to it. And we always take everything and always all of our profits go back to putting programming into schools. Anything that we get donated, we align up and put it right back in the schools.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (44m 9s):
No, I’m pretty hyped up. So I’m going to donate after we get off of this, pretty, pretty excited about this. So thank you so much. Again, if you enjoyed this podcast, please go ahead and hit follow. It used to be subscribed, but it’s no longer it’s now follow. If you want to find out more about what I do or what we do at the Orsini Wani, any way you can reach firstname.lastname@example.org. Lisa, thank you. It’s been a pleasure again, and I hope we speak real soon again. Well, before we leave, I want to thank you for listening to this episode of difficult conversations lessons I learned as an ICU physician, and I want to thank the Finley project for being such an amazing organization. Please, everyone who’s listening to this episode, go ahead, visit the Finley project.org.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (44m 49s):
See the amazing things they’re doing. I’ve seen this organization literally saved the lives of mothers who lost infants. So the find out more go to the Finley project.org. Thank you. And I will see you again on Tuesday.
Announcer (45m 3s):
If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button and leave a comment and review. To contact Dr. Orsini and his team, or to suggest guests for future podcasts, visit email@example.com. The comments and opinions of the interviewer and guests on this podcast are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of their present and past employers or institutions.
Dr. Anthony Orsini
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Ep. 162 – December 27, 2021