Blog

Blocking Your Bully

Cyberbullying.

By definition, cyberbullying is “the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages, usually anonymously.” In today’s world, cyberbullying is a serious issue. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, between 2007 and 2015, the average lifetime cyberbullying victimization rate was 26.3%. The most recent study they conducted was last year (2015) on a group of 457 students. Of those 457 students, 34.4% said they were constantly (lifetime) cyberbullied, 15% said they had been cyberbullied in the previous 30 days, and 21% said they had been cyberbullied on or more times in the previous 30 days.

With all that bullying going on, one would think that the victims would alert someone to their abuse. However, according to nobullying.com, “only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse” and they are “2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.”

Maybe they’re too scared to tell someone? Maybe they don’t want to get hurt anymore than they already are? Maybe they somehow think they deserve to be bullied? Maybe they just don’t know how to or who to go to?

Whatever the reason, the fact still stands: people aren’t reporting cyberbullying.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO?

1. Tell them to stop.

Writing a clear message to the bully telling them not to contact you again probably won’t prevent them from attempting to bully you further, but it does help when you present evidence to the authorities.

2. Don’t respond to the bully.

Cyberbullies, and bullies in general, thrive off of fear and negative responses to their abuse. By not responding, you may not completely end the bullying, but there is the chance that they […]

LOOK UP and get out in nature!

Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
Did you know that we are currently experiencing what experts are calling “Nature Deficit Disorder”, or NDD for short? It’s true! Today our always-on connection with our devices is keeping many from taking breaks and getting out into nature. This nature deprivation is defined as a lack of time in the natural world, largely due to hours spent looking down at screens; it has been associated, unsurprisingly, with depression. Studies also show that without regular immersion in nature, we can suffer physical and emotional distress, including anxiety, depression and obesity.

Time spent out in nature offers us many benefits. In one study, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced. It’s not surprising seeing God created this amazing world we live in and He created us to get out and experience it. I love the way The Message says it in Psalm 19:1-2, “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.”

Some benefits of getting into nature

• Reduces stress and anxiety. It has a calming effect!
• Treats depression. It is a great mood lifter!
• Improves sleep. Who doesn’t need more sleep!
• It gets you moving. Looking up and exercising!
• Increased immune function. You will be healthier!
• Inspires creativity. Oxygenates your brain!
• Helps you to experience God. He is speaking through His Creation!

Make it a habit to spend more time in nature: exercise outside instead of going to the gym; have lunch outdoors; and spend as much of your weekends as you can out in nature. At the very least, get a plant for your home or office. Set […]

New Year’s Desire to Unplug in 2015

One of the top New Year’s resolutions, according to Twitter is to find ways to unplug from our smart phones, tablets and other technological devices.
Our digital usage is invading every area of our life – according to a recent Time Magazine survey, 84% said they could not go a single day without their cellphones.
As we enter 2015 it’s important for us to remember that it’s our digital habits, not our digital devices that are the problem. A student shared with me that he spent the majority of his teen years in front of a computer, which he now regrets because instead of making friends and having real life experiences he used technology as a substitute.
I like to say artificial intelligence is just that it’s “artificial”. Virtual is not the same as “real” life. Let’s not look back at 2015 and have digital regret.

We all can strive to have better digital habits. Here are some examples:
• No smartphones or tablets in the bedroom.
• No use of devices during meal times.
• No pulling out your phone during a conversation.
• No texting and driving.
I love working with college students because I learn so much from them. One student stated, “The Internet is a wonderful and efficient way to stay connected with people you cannot be with or see as often as you would like. It’s full of different search engines that produce answers to questions in a number of milliseconds, but like any good thing if you use too much of it, it isn’t good anymore.”
We will no doubt make many technological advances in 2015 and I am all for taking these steps forward, I’m just proposing we take a few steps backward with our humanity. Back to […]

Introducing the Center for Digital Wellness at Liberty University

I recently started a new job. I am currently serving as the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Digital Wellness at Liberty University. It’s very exciting as this is the first digital wellness center in the nation that is dedicated to teaching a healthy use and theology of technology, helping people practice digital wellness for a lifetime.
Let me be clear though I am very pro-technology, I just received my iPhone 6 and it is wonderful! But our technology has a way of giving us control and taking it away at the same time, so we need to put technology in its place. I like to say technology does have a place it just doesn’t know it. I really covet your prayers as I work to transform a culture of distraction to a culture of engagement.

I found it interesting that the week I started the center the cover of Time Magazine had a picture of the new Apple Watch with the title “Never Offline. The Apple Watch is just the start. How wearable tech will change your life – like it or not.” The article inside stated that the Apple Watch is very personal, and intimate. It gets closer than we’re used to technology getting. It get’s inside your bubble, the Apple Watch wants to snuggle up and become part of your self. The article went on to say once you are OK with wearing technology, the only way forward is inward; the next product launch after this would logically be the iMplant, a computer chip implanted in your brain – we would become part machine, part human. Maybe we need to think about how much we want our […]

Relationship IQ

Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd

Research and experience confirm that relationships can be challenging, demanding, and hard work, but they are worth it. You and I have been created by a relational God to be in relationships. We are relational beings. Research shows compelling evidence that strong relationships contribute to a long, healthy, and happy life. Conversely, the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, blood pressure, and obesity.According to psychiatrists Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz, social alienation is an inevitable result of contemporary society’s preoccupation with materialism and frantic “busy-ness.” Their decades of research support the idea that a lack of relationships can cause multiple problems with physical, emotional, and spiritual health. The research is clear and devastating: isolation is fatal.
 
Think about your own life today. What is bringing you the most pain and the most joy? I would venture to say your answer would have something to do with relationships. Relationships give meaning and purpose to our lives like no other activity or endeavor can. It seems that most of us could use some assistance in developing better relational intelligence. In fact a large part of what we do in the helping profession is equip people to become more intelligent about their relationships, to help people to see them as assets and to make wise relational choices. I want to offer you 4 keys to relationship IQ.
 
 
4 Keys to Relationship IQ
 
1.     Know yourself.
2.     Choose wisely.
3.     Communicate.
4.     Give grace.
 
1. Know yourself.
A key ingredient to relationship IQ is to know oneself. This will require some introspection and self-reflection to become transparent. You have to take the time to know who you are and what […]

Nomophobia: The Fear of Being Without Your Smartphone

Nomophobia: The Fear of Being Without Your Smartphone
by
Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
 
A recent study revealed a new disorder called “Nomophobia” which is the fear of being without your Smartphone and today affects 40% of the population. Aside from sleep and sex, the urge to log into social networking sites is stronger than any other, including drugs and alcohol. The study found that while a compulsion for logging onto Facebook appears to be less physically harmful than, say cigarettes or alcohol, it still becomes an addiction that “steals” many people’s time.
 
Let’s be honest most of us are fixated and emotionally connected to our phones. If I’m honest with you today I am constantly struggling the urge to check my phone, to fight the addiction to be constantly connected. Our phones have become extensions of ourselves, they are often the first things we reach for when we wake up, and many are putting more time and attention into their phones than they invest in face-to-face relationships. The average Smartphone user checks their phone 150 times a day.
 
Go ahead and take the Nomophobia test below and see where you score.
 

 
So how did you do? Does the thought of being without your phone send you into a state of complete panic? As one woman remarked, “When leaving my phone at a restaurant and having to live 12 hours without it sends me to the brink… there’s a problem.”  Many people also experience what I call PPVD, which is short for Phantom Phone Vibration Disorder. A man shared with me that he went to work without his Smartphone and all that day he would reach for his phone believing it was vibrating, only to find that there was no phone […]

How To Raise Your EQ

Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd

In our digital age we are having less face-to-face interactions and real life conversations and this is causing a reduction in people’s EQ. When it comes to happiness and success in life, studies are telling us that emotional intelligence (EQ) can actually be more important then our intellectual ability (IQ). If you have high EQ (emotional intelligence) you will be able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others, be able to read body language and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You will know what to say and what not to say and will be able to use this understanding of emotions to relate better to other people, form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life. And do you want to hear the best part? These skills can be learned.
5 Skills to Raise Your EQ
1.     Reduce stress in the moment in a variety of settings.
2.     Recognize your emotions and keep them from overwhelming you.
3.     Connect emotionally with others by using nonverbal communication.
4.     Use humor and play to stay connected in challenging situations.
5.     Resolve conflicts positively and with confidence.
 
Reduce stress in the moment in a variety of settings.
 
If you haven’t learned how to manage stress, it’s important to do so first. Research has found that it can take as little as five seconds of conscious deep breathing to short circuit a ‘neural highjack’ which occurs when the primitive and reactive part of your brain (the “Amygdala”) overtakes the thinking part of your brain and triggers a fight-flight-freeze response. When you can manage your stress, you’ll feel more comfortable reconnecting to strong or unpleasant emotions […]

Christmas Stress, Conflict and Digital Addiction

Christmas Stress, Conflict and Digital Addiction

by
Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
As we enter this Holiday season let’s be reminded that Christmas is about making memories, continuing traditions and opportunities to make a few more. For many though this season will bring stress, conflict and digital addiction. According to The Meeker Report, we know that the average Smartphone user checks their device 150 times a day, so it’s no surprise that 80% of Americans say they struggle to unplug and completely switch off during weekends, vacations and holidays. In this season intended for togetherness, many will invest time in digital gadgets that steal away important family time and face-to-face interactions.
Holidays can bring up feelings of loss and a sense of being alone and disconnected. During this season we are also prone to experience higher levels of conflict that come mostly from our unrealistic expectations. These stressful feelings can cause us to spend more time on our digital gadgets trying to alleviate our stress, loneliness and escape the pain. 
Instead of trying to escape the pain it can be helpful to try and acknowledge your feelings and process them in a healthy way. Also recognize the need to set limits on holiday spending as financial stress can also cause conflict during the holidays. Keeping gift giving simple, and focusing on the act of giving, not the cost of the gift will be helpful. Keeping a realistic schedule during the holidays and making sure to save some time and energy for yourself will help replenish you and provide resiliency for coping with the stressful situations you are bound to encounter.            
Tips to Have a Merry Christmas:
·      Work on balancing your time between what you do for others and what you do […]

3 Conversations Everyone Must Have

by Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
 
We are all living in a hyper-connected world today, making constant connections through a myriad of digital gadgets and applications. We see many connections happening but are we having any real conversations? Think about it, if you were to add up all your texts, tweets and posts would they even add up to one good conversation? I don’t think mine would.
 
MIT Professor Dr. Sherry Turkle makes a sharp distinction between conversations that take place face-to-face, in the real world, and connections made online through social media. She says, “We are tempted to think that our little ‘sips’ of online connections add up to a big gulp of real conversation, but they don’t. Email, Facebook, Twitter it has its place, but it does not substitute for conversation.”
 
In order to have real intimacy in our relationships it will require face-to-face conversations. There are conversations that everyone must have.
 
1. Conversations with God – The most important conversation to start your day with is talking with God and listening to His voice. Research shows most people have already looked at a screen before they’ve even gotten out of bed. I know the pull is strong, but try to give God the first view of your day and then cultivate your God-awareness throughout that day.
 
2.) Conversations with Yourself – This conversation that helps to develops self-awareness is really lacking in our digital age. As I sit with clients each day I am seeing a sharp rise in the lack of self-awareness. It shouldn’t be “I tweet therefore I am” but “I am therefore I tweet”. We must spend time with ourselves in silence and solitude processing our thoughts and emotions. Research shows us if […]

Could You or Someone You Love Have Digital Dementia?

by Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
When we hear the word “dementia” we immediately think of an elderly person sitting in a rocking chair at a nursing home. But there is a new cognitive condition that is affecting younger people some even in their early teens and 20’s its called “digital dementia.” A UCLA study found that about 14 percent of young people aged between 18 and 39 complained of memory problems.

Digital dementia is defined as the deterioration of brain function as a result of the overuse of digital technology, such as computers, Smartphones and Internet use in general, Medical Daily reported. They go on to say that this excess use of technology leads to unbalanced brain development, as heavy users are more likely to overdevelop their left-brains, leaving their right brains underdeveloped.

We associate the left side of the brain with rational thought, numerical computation and fact finding, while the right side of the brain is responsible for more creative skills and emotional thoughts. So if the right brain remains under developed in the long term, it can lead to the early onset of dementia.

Some common symptoms of digital dementia:
·       Memory problems                                                                                                   
·       Shortened attention spans                                                                                               
·       Emotional flattening
Numerous clinics have been established in South Korea to address digital dementia, such as the Balance Brain Center in southern Seoul. Many experts have called for Internet addiction to be classified, as a mental disorder and that it should be treated as a major public health issue. Here in American the newest release of the DSM-V, which is considered the Bible of Psychology, did not include Internet Addiction as a viable disorder.

Dr. Manfred Spitzer, a German neuroscientist, published a book titled “Digital Dementia” in 2012 that warned parents […]

The Facebook Trap

The Facebook Trap
by Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd

So there I was staring at my Facebook friend count, it read 250 friends. I had just received a Facebook request and saw this person had 2000 friends. I thought, “What is wrong with me that more people haven’t asked to be my Facebook friend?” If I’m honest it made me feel like I didn’t measure up, that I might not be worthy of more friends. I really should know better as I just completed a book on the topic of the digital invasion. But this experience showed me how our social media diet today is setting us all up for Facebook comparing, contrasting, competing and yes even for depression.
 
The Comparison Trap
We look to Facebook to wrap us in the warm embrace of social connections, as we skim our friends’ pages to make us feel loved, supported and connected. But skimming through photos of friends’ life successes can also trigger feelings of envy, misery and loneliness. Research shows that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site especially if they viewed vacation photos. It showed that Facebook frequenters who spent time on the site without posting their own content were also more likely to feel dissatisfied.
I believe as women none of us are immune to the posts and tweets we read that leave us comparing and contrasting our lives with others. We fall into the comparison trap when we find ourselves judging how well or poorly we believe we are doing based on how we perceive others around us are doing.  We can get pulled into constantly making comparisons, contrasting our own life or our child’s life with others, and in the process our life doesn’t seem to measure up. […]

Flourish in Sweet Love

You and I have been designed to flourish in “Sweet Love”. It’s in our DNA. Every circuit of your brain and my brain is wired to be loved and to love. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of love and of power and of a sound mind.” Every type of emotion has one of only two roots – love or fear. Out of love flow joy, peace, happiness, patience, kindness, gentleness, and hope. Out of fear flow hate, anger, bitterness, resentment, rage, worry, envy and hopelessness.

The fascinating part is that scientists have researched the anatomy and physiology of love and fear and found that these two emotions cannot coexist. You either walk in love or fear but you can’t walk in both at the same time. 1 John 4:18 tells us, “Perfect love casts out fear.” We are wired for love, fear is a learned response. We are made for love. When we love our brain releases the chemicals dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin our feel good hormones. When we love we are set free to be our true, best self that God designed us to be. Fear causes us to release the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Fear in our heart and mind causes stress, which leads to anxiety and ultimately depression.

Proverbs 19:22 says, “What a man or woman longs for is unfailing love.” God’s love is unconditional and extravagant. His love is unfailing; it is limitless, unfathomable, unending and unconditional. We can’t earn it, we can’t stop it, and it’s the most powerful force in the universe. God’s love changes everything. His love conquers all. God’s love is sweet it satisfies like nothing else […]

The Digital Invasion

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” Emerson’s statement relates well to our modern digital age; it can be a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Experts predict that by the year 2015, 80% of our world’s population will have a Smartphone, iPad, or laptop computer. Just look at any restaurant table and you will see people sitting with heads down completely captivated with their small screens. In our homes, schools, and churches the evidence is all around us: we have been invaded. You and I are connected all day, every day, no matter where we go we can’t escape the “plugged-in” life. The new “WWW” stands for: Whatever, Wherever, Whenever.

A recent cover of Newsweek (July 18, 2012) reads “iCrazy: Panic. Depression. Psychosis. How Connection Addiction is Rewiring Our Brains.” The article states that new research reveals the Internet can make us more lonely and depressed—and may even create more extreme forms of mental illness. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways. So why are we all at risk for becoming addicted to our digital gadgets? It’s because they act like electronic cocaine to our brain. Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine said, “There’s just something about the electronic medium that’s addictive. I’ve seen plenty of patients who have no history of addictive behavior become addicted via the Internet and these other technologies.”

This 24/7 invasion is starting to take its toll on our physical, emotional, relational and spiritual life. Many researchers believe […]

Sign Up For Blog Updates

Sign up for Dr. Sylvia Frejd's newsletter and email alerts and receive a free Spiritual Meditation download.

Share Your Story