As a parent, we instinctively want our kids to be liked and included among their peers. It’s natural; no one wants their child to feel left out or appear like they don’t fit in. We want our children to be happy and have a group of friends that they grow and develop with. Social media has made this slightly more difficult. With everyone now more connected than ever, we can withdraw and become more distant, anxious and develop FOMO like we have never experienced before.
What is social media FOMO?
The fear of missing out (FOMO) on social media is common in today's digital age. It refers to anxiety or insecurity when individuals believe they are missing out on interesting, exciting, or enjoyable experiences others share on social media platforms. Years ago, when children would meet to do an activity together, no one would be any wiser if they weren’t invited. Now, with social media, children document their activities. If one child is not included in this activity and sees it online, it can lead to negative feelings and emotions.
Many factors cause social media FOMO. It’s an interesting topic of discussion because often, FOMO is caused in our minds, both adults and children alike. It differs from bullying as the intent behind it is, more often than not, not malicious.
- Constant connection: Because our children are constantly connected, a deeper connection is formed between them. When they are not included in something and see it online can leave an extreme feeling of being left out and not being good enough or wondering what they have done wrong.
- Social comparison: Feelings of loneliness can arise when one child appears to have a much better social life than another. It’s important to educate children that social media is a highlight reel, and people mostly only post when they are doing an exciting activity or with others, when in fact, the other 6 days of the week, their life may not be that exciting.
- Fear of Isolation: FOMO can also stem from a fear of being left out or excluded from social circles, which is heightened when seeing others enjoying activities online.
We must remind and educate children that social media offers only a curated glimpse into people's lives rather than the whole picture. By teaching them to focus on their well-being and finding fulfilment in real-life experiences, we can help them reduce the impact of FOMO on social media.
Additional ways to help your child reduce social media FOMO
Be aware of triggers
Limit social media use
Practice gratitude with them
Teach your child to be aware of accounts and users that trigger a sense of FOMO and anxiety within them. Let them know it’s ok to unfollow and even block these users. It’s ok not to put yourself in a position to view content that makes you unhappy.
Limit the amount of time your child spends on social media each day. The less time they have to consume triggering content, the happier they will be.
Practice gratitude with your child. Take time together to appreciate all the positive things you have in your lives, like each other. They will be more confident in living life and appreciating the smaller things more.
Teach them how to be mindful of their emotions, spot their triggers, and navigate around them. This is a lesson for life.
At Zeeko, we are here to help you. We pride ourselves in helping parents and teachers across Ireland and further by providing information on Social Media, Internet Safety and Education. If you, as a parent, have any questions about social media and how to navigate it with your child, feel free to reach out to a member of our team.