The concept of FOMO is not new to us. It’s very rational for teens to wonder what happens when they aren’t around or when their friends go out without them. But this anxiety became more profound, with the advent of social media.
The Oxford English dictionary added this concept to their lexicon in 2013, and defined it as “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.”
Fundamentally, FOMO is “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. It can affect anyone, even parents.
Are you wondering how to recognise FOMO? Just ask yourself the following questions. Is your teen habitually or continuously checking their phone? Does he/she seem anxious when they are away from their phone or mobile devices? Does your teen find it difficult to stay off social media? Is he/she daily finding more “urgent” reasons to be online? Is your teen seemingly addicted to their phone?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then the chances are that your teen is suffering from the dreaded Fear Of Missing Out.
How can you help your teen?
1. Treat it Like Any Other Addiction
As with any other addiction, the first step is admittance and then gradually weaning off the drug of choice. Using the above questions, establish your teen’s fixation.
Once you’re can get your kids to see this mental slavery to social media, gradually wean them off their phones. Help them spend less time on social media. Drop off boxes are an excellent way to do so.
2. “More isn’t certainly better”. Make this your mantra
Teach your teen to drop some of the activities or desires that don’t contribute to increasing the quality of their life experiences. They have to be prepared to say ‘no’ to more things. Say no to doing things just because someone else is doing them.
Doing so will provide them, and you, with more time dedicated to profoundly rewarding experiences. Help them concentrate on things that heighten the quality, not the quantity in their life.
“More isn’t certainly better”. Make this your mantra.
3. Understand that you don’t have it All, and that’s okay.
Wants are unlimited, whereas needs are finite. Teach them the very vital skill of accepting that it is futile to try to fulfil every desire we have. All we have to do is prioritise. Identify what is necessary and cut off all others. Doing so will allow us to focus on what is real and essential.
Instead of pursuing after what may merely be a mirage of happiness, teach your teen to aim to enjoy the simple pleasures. Help them realise that even if they got all their desires right now, they would still want more.
We may not be as wealthy as Kylie Jenner or have 300,000 Instagram followers, but we are content.
4. Consciously Try to be Grateful
As a family, instead of chasing the unrealistic fantasies we think will fulfil us, it is vital to develop gratitude. Doing so will allow us and teach our kids to genuinely appreciate what they have and what is real. As opposed to focusing their mental energy on what they lack or their unrealistic wants.
FOMO is the anxiety that comes with the fear that we lack the things necessary for our comfort or happiness. Gratitude allows us to count our blessings.
Content people are rarely anxious. Be satisfied.
5. Savour real-life experiences
By being an example, teach your teen to take time to make friends offline and try new things, instead of rushing through activities for the next exciting online trend. Rather than doing things for the applaud of online ‘friends’.
Take time to smell the metaphorical roses.
6. Enjoy the journey
In my opinion, one of the wisest things Miley Cyrus said, or sang, is “It’s not about how fast I get there, it’s not about what’s waiting on the other side, It’s the Climb”.
If there ever was a law to live by, it’s this.
Help kids understand that nothing is permanent, so they have to take each day as it comes and be patient. Sure, they cannot afford that iPhone XS, or that new game console right now, this too shall pass.
Very soon, they will be capable of getting phones, video games, or whatever it is they want because life is a process.
7. Lead by example
Teens will always learn what you do, more than what you say. If you want them to take you seriously and heed your counsel, you have to show them that you are not a hypocrite.
Overcome your own FOMO before making them do theirs. Better still, take this journey in overcoming anxiety together.
It is essential that your teen understands that no one gains from FOMO. This anxiety affects not just them, but also everyone around them (their family). Their loved ones will begin to feel neglected.