Helping Your Curious Kid Understand Their Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

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It’s natural to feel uneasy when you’ve missed out on something. If you walk into a room full of colleagues and they’re laughing, you know you’ve just missed a funny joke. You jump in and ask, “what is so funny?” Everyone is bent over in stitches trying to explain but only laughing harder. You’re probably left feeling confused and awkward so you try to get in on it and laugh along.

teen fears

Does it all stem from our need to belong?

You may think about it the rest of the day and wish you hadn’t spent extra time on your project so you could have been a part of the joke. The worst is when everyone keeps talking about it well past the time of the incident. Though this may not always be the case, this is basically what your kid is feeling when they don’t have constant access to their social media. In their world, missing live Twitter beef between their friends can be devastating.

We may not completely understand, because our generation didn’t revolve around social media, but unfortunately, it’s a big part of your child’s life. It is estimated that kids spend more than three hours a day online which comprises of about 45-days of their life per year.

The bombardment of social media notifications is affecting your child whether they know it or not. For them, it’s very difficult not to login when something new is happening. However, understanding your kid’s FOMO can help you help them gradually overcome it so they can learn how to get on that much needed digital diet.

The down side of social media

social media quotes

Everyone enjoys validation. It’s human nature to desire acceptance into a social group. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are excellent sources for immediate validation and acceptance. The need for validation in the form of consistent likes or comments, number of friends or followers, and the amount of shares or mentions they receive and it’s easily measured and determined. But this can have a negative impact on your child’s self-esteem because they yearn for a “like” or a “heart” and when they don’t receive those they are devastated.

Additionally, social media sites skew the image of happiness not just for kids but for adults as well. If you use social media like Facebook, then you may understand what it’s like to see your friends succeeding, houses, going on vacation, etc. This could get you thinking, comparing and yearning for the things they have and you don’t.

Although you can rationalize your feelings, it can be more challenging than we think for our kids who spend a lot more time on social media. Their sight through the lenses of Facebook can be the whole truth for them, but being the more mature, rational adults that we are, we understand that people typically only post the positive things that are going on in their lives.

social media for teens

For teens, it goes beyond traveling and achievement posts. They’re in the stages of wanted to be the best, baddest, and most talked about in order to fit into a more popular crowd. Because for them, this is what’s most important in their world. So drugs, sex, and alcohol can be seen as “cool” and “awesome” via social media for our teens.

Because of our experiences, we can probably say that those vices and “cool” habits can in fact be detrimental in many ways, including the outcome of their future.


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Teaching kids to be socially responsible

Banning social media from your kid’s life isn’t the answer. Although we may not think so, there are a lot of positives and bright sides of using social media. However, talking to your child about usage times is very important.

Engage, share, unplug

Try to engage your kids in conversations by asking them about their lives. Talk to them about things you feel could peak their interests and find out how they’re doing in school and perhaps how they’re feeling in general. Take advantage of the times you have together in the car or during meal times. Maybe you can even set aside times without electronics and unplug as a family. Do your best not to talk about the things that are wrong, but perhaps stay on the positive edge of the conversations.

Comparing your life to someone else’s on social media has negative results and they have to learn that from you because Facebook isn’t going to tell them. Show them how to be thankful even if it feels like you don’t have everything you want in life. Be sure to communicate that their self-worth is not contingent on internet points or what other people online have to say about them. Remind them to put the phone away when they are with their friends and family because deep relationships aren’t built on the web. They’re built face to face, interacting with others and sharing in moments and experiences.