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Billings parents hear from expert about mental health, social media, and violence

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Posted at 12:31 AM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 16:09:04-05

BILLINGS - A nationally renowned psychologist visited with parents and staff in Billings School District 2 and spoke about social media's influence on kids.

Dr. Lisa Strohman came to the Lincoln Center Auditorium on Monday night, to talk about mental health and social media.

She gave parents some information they can use to help their children and she said sometimes social media influence can lead to violence.

An incident that happened in August and one near West High School revealed this week were recorded and put on social media.

"Violence is the one sure thing that they know how to do and how to perpetuate that online," said Strohman.

Strohman has been a clinical psychologist for 23 years and worked with thousands of families and kids.

She says anxiety and depression sometimes lead to a challenge or an encouragement to commit a crime that can be shown on social media.

"Kids are developing," Strohman said. "Their brains are very, very naive. They're trying to find a cohort that they can blend in with. And so we tend to see those kids that are kind of those bad actors and violence kind of come together and go out and create these pockets of issues of disturbing the peace or vandalism or things like that."

Strohman also talked about pornography, gaming, and substance abuse, and says bad behaviors can develop for kids living in the social media world.

"They're trying to figure out who they are as a person," Strohman said. "And instead of having their families come in and give the primary influence, it's now peer and online worlds in social media that are influencing them at the highest rates."

And parents face the battle and challenge of minimizing that influence.

"You kind of feel like you're a hostage as a parent because you don't want to take away their friends," said Jeff Stock, a parent. "You don't want to take away their ability to have friends and to communicate."

Strohman says parents can be a good example and look at their own screen time and watch for changes in behavior.

"Are they eating the same?" Strohman said about questions parents can ponder. "Are they smiling as much? Are they spending more time in their room? What are the things that you're recognizing, those behavioral signs that you as a parent can come in and say hey, what's going on?"

And that's the information some parents need.

"Just being conscious and being present is extremely important." Stock said.

"We have to be able to give them the lessons and the education so that they can use it for good and not for evil," Strohman said.

Strohman says more information is available on the Digital Citizen Academy website.

Substance Abuse Connect invited Strohman to Billings and offered the talk to School District 2.

She is also scheduled to speak from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the First Interstate Bank Great West Center at 1800 6th Avenue North.