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social media for teens

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

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.


Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on:
Twitter | Linkedin | Google +

17 comments

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  • I think we can all relate to fomo since the majority of us have facebook and probably refresh our news feed more than we’d like to admit because we fear we’re going to miss something. I’ve actually uninstalle the app and hsve no need to check my newsfeed constantly since no one posts anything worthwhile anyways. I mainly just get on to post pics or blog social interaction.

  • That’s so well laid out and I love how you go broad about ‘being thankful even if it feels like you don’t have everything you want in life’ Tyler – FOMO is such a problem to us all, not just teens! There are some brilliant picture books around that inspire to take a different path, like The Table Where Rich People Sit. The teens in our families have loved that one.

  • My oldest has a “want you to like me” mentality. I have no idea where he gets it from but I worry about it. We haven’t started social media yet. I try to get them to live in the moment so they don’t have a lot of fun to work on that.

  • I have a teen, but have never thought of him having this FOMO thing. He does have a Facebook account as well as an Instagram account but he’s never active in those. He has Snapchat too, but he seldom posts. But thank you for this article. As a parent, this is definitely a great one.

  • I have never heard of this, but yeah I can totally see it in my 8 year old daughter. Thanks for bringing attention to this.

  • So many people experience FOMO. That’s one of the reasons I hate social media…and I am a well adjusted adult. It must be so hard for teens when there is so much social pressure.

  • We have to let them know what social media can do and how it’s not important to have a lot of likes or be put in the pressure of doing things that they are not comfortable to do just so that they won’t “miss out” with what everyone seems to be doing. We cannot let them make social media their sole focus for assurance or affirmation.

  • FOMO is based on pure emotion. It’s irrational. It doesn’t listen to reason or logic. It can make you feel like this is the absolute LAST opportunity for you to buy this product. And it can make you spend the money you don’t have. This post so interesting!

  • FOMO is a big thing with teens. It’s very important that we teach our kids that social media does not make a person. These are very helpful tips.

  • My Son used to hate to go to be for fear he was going to miss something. Fomo is definitely a real thing. He has gotten a bit better since he has gotten older.

  • The thing is – and this is what my kids were taught – which was proven time and again with no help from me … there are a few types of social media posters … those who want attention and use drama to get it, those who want attention and use drugs, sex, etc to get it, and those who want attention and use how wonderful their life is to get it.
    In most cases what we see in social media is not even close to the truth.
    Great article and it is wonderful we have bloggers like yourself helping parents today.

  • FOMO is a HUGE thing!! So many people, both teens and adults, think that social media is a place where people over exaggerate what they do, see and who they are. We need to teach our children that they need to be proud of what they are and what they have and be HAPPY for others, not jealous!

  • This is such a great post. The Fear Of Missing Out not only affects children but many adults as well. In a society where everything is shared, tweeted, posted, and pinned, people feel like they are somehow deprived if they do not have the things that everyone else has.

About Author

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on:
Twitter | Linkedin | Google +