Like many other 6-year-olds, when I was younger, I always wanted to play outside with the neighbours’ kids. Sadly, my mom wouldn’t let me until I had done my homework and cleaned my room.
I remember how much it stung to look out the window and see the other children swinging from the dusty tire strung to the old oak tree. I remember the deep pain that accompanied hearing those soul-piercing, high pitched screams of children having a good time. Many times I cried because I couldn’t join in.
That my dear is FOMO.
What is FOMO?
FOMO – The Fear of Missing Out – in its simplest terms is the sense that others are having a more rewarding experience that one is absent from. FOMO can affect just about anyone: Parents missing out on many of their toddler’s firsts because they have to be at work (Parental FOMO); teens who have to stay home while their friends have an exciting night out; and as I’m sure you can tell from my story, even 8-year-old children who have to do their homework.
Now in the era of social media, FOMO, much like society has also evolved. It is increasingly convenient for teens to suffer from it now than it was 15 years ago. Now if a teen misses out on an event, they can witness all the missed excitement (on friends’ social media posts) from different friend’s point of view with each new status. Thereby worsening the anxiety.
Since the phenomenon has been an insidious part of our lives for so long, most people tend to underestimate its severity, but scientists tell us that this phenomenon is, in fact, social anxiety and can be monumentally detrimental to the health of young people.
Because humans are natural conformists, the evolved pack animal as it were, we find ourselves continually trying to be a part of the group, or do what others are doing. The minute we cannot, then we feel as though our life is incomplete.
Why is FOMO bad?
Like every other anxiety, they are many reasons it’s terrible. But why is it so horrible for our teens to want to be online 24/7?
1. It causes emotional and social harm:
Experts tell us that the fear of missing out and the need to know if one is missing out on something important can lead to emotional or social harm.
Three teens from Ontario, Canda report that social media is stressful. They complain that there is so much anxiety attached to even sending text messages. Teens become anxious if a sent message is not replied on time. Explaining that they get depressed if they aren’t tagged posts. Not getting tagged indicates that they are part of the out-group. That is a new subtle way teens excommunicate and bully each other.
2. FOMO is making face-to-face interaction more and more extinct
Because the costs of social media texts are relatively cheaper than conventional text messages or calls, teens very conveniently forget that face-to-face interaction still exists.
4. It is distracting
The thing about FOMO is the anxiety and the impulse it gives teens to check their phones multiple times, thereby making it significantly hard to focus on other tasks. Statistics of Snapchat; the favourite app of 69% of teens show that its 158 million daily users open the app around 18 times each day.
‘Stories’, (a collection of photos or videos posted in chronological order to a person’s social media for their friends to view), intensify FOMO when your teen is unable to go out with a group of friends. Social media allows your teen to see what he/she is missing out on from several different views. Thus making the FOMO grow with each new friend’s story viewed.
Stories last up to 24 hours and can be viewed numerous times at the discretion of the watcher, making it incredibly easy for teens to obsessively live out their anxieties by watching their friends’ stories multiple times.
Social media has teens obsessively stalking their exes to ‘feel close’ to them.
6. Sleep Deprivation
Teen social media influencers (people with a substantial following) explain how they get no more than 4 hours of sleep on a good night because they ‘have to’ check on their phones multiple times to see if they have any new messages, texts, or likes.
Recent research shows that 57% of teens found it difficult to relax or sleep after spending time on social networking sites, thus confirms this confession.
If experts tell us that the growing teen needs at least 7 hours of sleep each night, then really FOMO is the enemy. Consider Drop Off Boxes.
Although seemingly safe, when compared with vices like drugs, sex and alcohol, FOMO can cause severe physical and psychological damage. Especially if it is left unchecked. If you Suspect that your child has a phone addiction or do you just want to help your teen overcome FOMO. These articles will significantly help you.