It’s called FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out, and it has become a real problem for many teens.
When everyone is connected via social media, they need to see every status update from their friends. Also, there is the worry that if they are distracted, they might lose a potential connection with someone else.
This constant need to be up-to-date on social media can leave your teen feeling anxious and antsy. What if they lose touch for even a few hours? Being unplugged might seem luxurious to you, but it might contribute to your teen’s anxiety.
If you are concerned about your teen and FOMO, here are five tips to help them beat their fear.
1. Ask Them to Consider What They Value
One idea is to ask your teen what it is that they value and find important in life. Most likely, included in that list would be friends and relationships.
If that’s the case, perhaps challenge them to think about what it is about friendship and relationships that are critical for success.
Is it always being updated on social media about their activities? Or, is it the following:
If these are true, then what does it matter if you miss out on a status update? The idea here is to challenge your teen to think critically about their relationships. Are they quality relationships or superficial?
2. Encourage Social Media Breaks
Another idea is to encourage your teen to take frequent breaks from social media. This doesn’t always have to mean that they have to delete their social media apps from their devices.
Instead, it could be that this weekend you all go to the lake as a family, where there is no cell service. Or, encourage them to participate in activities that require being present and in the moment. This could include being active in sports or playing a musical instrument.
3. Practice Healthy Coping Skills
Coach and help your teen practice healthy coping skills when facing anxiety, such as:
- Being physically active
- Counting to yourself when anxious
- Repeating a prayer or saying that is positive
- Keeping an emotions journal
- Practicing breathing exercise
- Turning off electronic devices an hour or two before bedtime
- Having no-screen zones in the home, such as the bedrooms
These healthy habits are not just useful for coping with anxiety related to FOMO. They can be helpful for coping with stress, in general.
4. Teach Them to Be Critical of Social Media Content
Teach your teen to analyze and be critical of what they see online in social media. This is particularly important for younger teens especially.
Remind them that everyone presents a certain image of what they want their lives to appear online. It’s a type of social branding, per se.
Social branding can lead to the false belief that everyone else is having a great time and that society is leaving your teen behind. Rather, they need to critique what they see and be willing to ask questions.
5. Reinforce That They Don’t Need Social Media for Fulfillment
Finally, remind your teen that they don’t need social media to have value and fulfillment in their lives. After all, social media is meant to mirror your life—albeit a very flawed and biased reflection.
Rather, the value of your life comes from the experiences you have and the relationships you create in the real world. Help them to keep in mind what truly matters to them.
Social media has become an indispensable tool for communicating with others and forming relationships. However, for many teens, it can be a source of anxiety as they attempt to keep up with the flow of status updates and connections.
If your teen struggles with FOMO, use the tips above to provide support. If they are continuing to grapple with this issue, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. Feel free to contact our office today.