Managing A Curious Teens FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) On Social Media

Managing A Curious Teens FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) On Social Media

As a parent you may not fully understand the real and present danger of FOMO (fear of missing out) for your teens. Nearly every minute of the day their friends – and enemies – are posting every detail of their lives. Well, maybe not every detail. Just the good ones. But your teen may not understand that. As they scroll through social media they see parties to which they weren’t invited, games they’ve never played, places they’ve never gone, relationships they want to have, and the constant evolution of what’s “cool.” It’s exhausting and often depressing. FOMO is real for today’s teens, and it’s setting unhealthy expectations for many. How can you help?

How to Manage Your Teen’s FOMO

  1. Accept. Sure, you may be an adult now, but you remember what it was like to not be invited to something. Maybe even now you feel that pressure to keep up with the Jones’ or the urge to try that new great restaurant that everyone’s been talking about. The very first step in helping your teen is to acknowledge that FOMO is real, and that you experience it too.
  2. Don’t Belittle. It can be tempting to laugh when you see or hear your teen get upset about something that seems so trivial, like missing a night out with friends. Try to remember that for your teen that could mean everything in that moment. Use compassion and good judgment.
  3. Empathize. Instead of trying to explain why it won’t matter in the long run that they didn’t get invited to that birthday party, or that coming home an hour earlier than their friends will not amount to anything, just listen and empathize. Brood with them if need be. Validate their feelings and try to relate if appropriate.
  4. Have Phone-Free Zones. It’s common to have dinner time be device-free, but maybe consider ditching social media other times as well. Take a weekly hike or play a board game with no social media breaks. Helping your teen remember that life exists outside of social media can give them the perspective they need to recognize and manage their FOMO.
  5. Discuss Distortion. Although we as adults realize that social media isn’t “real,” teens may not. They may think that everyone is out there having fun every night, always looking beautiful, never struggling, and never sad. Ask your teen if they think people are more likely to post when things are going really good, or if they think anyone could be faking a fun time. Talk to them about filters, staging, and ways they could make their life look cooler – just so they understand that social media isn’t always reality.

Your parents probably didn’t have to worry much about your FOMO as a teen, because you weren’t instantly and constantly aware of what every person in your high school was doing on a given Friday night. But your teen is, so your job as a parent is a little more complicated. Don’t be afraid to reach out for parenting resources for the modern age, including courses, videos, counseling, or other aid. It takes a village to raise a teen, especially if that teen has their own entire village online.

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