In case you didn’t have enough to worry about as a parent, there’s a new syndrome with a weird name beginning to be the next hot topic.
It’s a mental health syndrome and its impacting adults, teens and kids everywhere.
My first thought was, “what in the heck is FOMO?”
Being all too aware of the speed at which social media moves, videos go viral and messages shoot around the circumference of the globe, I was immediately concerned.
I was convinced that my vacation down time had caused me to miss out on knowing the meaning of another acronym.
I came to understand that FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out.
Missing out on what?
Missing out on what other people are doing.
The verdict is in…I’m guilty.
I consider myself a very emotionally stable, mature adult and yet, in all honesty, there have been those times when I was hit right between the eyes with FOMO.
Checking my Facebook feed, Twitter and emails to see what my friends are doing, seeing and experiencing.
Who went to Europe, who got engaged, who just got the coolest speaking gig?
Most of the time, finding out the latest news on people I know (or barely know), doesn’t really phase me, but every once in a while, I feel the sting of FOMO.
Why did they get to go to Paris when I’m just vacationing at the lake?
How did they afford that New York City trip to enjoy New Year’s Eve at Time Square when I spent the evening at home watching homemade fireworks?
How did her son get accepted to Stanford?
Why did all my friends seem to have Norman Rockwell holidays with tons of smiling and happy family members gathered all around and my holidays were nothing like that?
FOMO at its worst.
As I gave FOMO more thought, I actually started asking around to some friends and family members and what I found was surprising to me.
The people that I asked told me that they experience FOMO as often as once a day after checking their social media updates.
They shared their FOMO almost instantly leads them to feelings of restlessness, anxiety, inadequacy, depression and irritation.
They has thoughts like,
Why them and not me?
My life stinks.
Why does everyone else have it so much better than me?
Having those kinds of thoughts as often as once a day, can do a lot of harm.
In the article, FOMO Addiction: The Fear of Missing Out, Dr. John Grohol describes FOMO in the context of our social media interactions.
He says, “We are so connected with one another through our Twitter streams and Foursquare check-ins, through our Facebook and LinkedIn updates, that we can’t just be alone anymore. The fear of missing out (FOMO) — on something more fun, on a social date that might just happen on the spur of the moment — is so intense, even when we’ve decided to disconnect, we still connect just once more, just to make sure.”
I can relate and so can many people I know.
Dr. Linda Sapadin, a psychologist and success coach who specializes in helping people overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior says,
“Teens with FOMO are highly anxious that “everyone’s” chatting about a FB post and they were the last to know. Or, “everyone’s” hanging out at a party house and they were excluded. Or, “everyone” received a hundred “likes” to their posts; they only received a paltry 22. On social media, everyone’s flaunting what they’re doing, with whom they’re doing it and posts are loaded with exclamation marks!!! With such pressure, it’s no surprise that teens are checking their phone every two minutes to make sure they’re not missing out on anything “important.”
FOMO is not just a kid or teen issue.
As parents, we often don’t recognize our own version of FOMO.
Not recognizing the potential negative impact on us can mean not only trouble for us, but for our kids.
If you find that you are experiencing FOMO and you are also concerned that your kids and teens are as well, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Have a chat with your kids or teens about FOMO. Get them talking about what it means and how it has already impacted their lives.
- Remember that the “perfect” lives others showcased in social media is not at all perfect. No one’s life is perfect.
- Resist the urge to compare your life to the lives of others. Focus on your own goals and your own life journey.
- Make a promise to yourself to be on alert for FOMO to strike. When it does, commit to quickly stopping the negative thoughts about your own life and replace them with grateful thoughts.
- Live in the moment. Resist the urge to obsess about the “share worthy” life events of others, especially if they cause you to have feelings of anxiety or depression.
- Remember that great parenting is intentional. Be open and transparent with your kids and teens when you experience FOMO. Your transparency will help them to recognize when it is happening to them and will better equip them to avoid the poor mental health pitfalls of FOMO.
Being aware of FOMO is just another great opportunity to help yourself live a happier, joyful life, while at the same time, being a powerful influence on the emotional and psychological health of your kids and teens.
In the words of the great American philosopher Mark Twain, “Comparison is the death of joy.”
Following these tips can change FOMO to Fun On My Own!