Although the name FOMO is new, the concept behind it is not. Humans love to feel included, and that they are part of a group, popular and accepted. We usually think of these behaviors as being heightened during our teen years, but they continue well into adulthood. Social media has expanded on this feeling. You may not have real friends, but you can have virtual friends on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, texting, and the list of options goes on and on.
Being connected is important. However, when your need to be connected prevents you from connecting with those in your immediate life there is a problem. When I am out and about, the first things I notice are how quickly phones come out when people are idle. If you are eating lunch with a colleague or friend, shouldn't this be the time to deepen your relationship with them? If you are traveling, the whole concept is to be in the new environment and experience it. How can we do that if we are afraid of missing out with someone's life that isn't with us?
If you notice your teen, your friend, or your partner suffers from FOMO there are several strategies that may help put them in remission. I am not sure there is a cure for this disorder, due to our need for being included. However, minimizing it can expand the hours they have to spend on enjoying you, their family, and friends.
1. Make a rule of no texting or checking FB, or other social sites while driving. The study suggested that people who suffer from FOMO more also texted and checked FB while driving.
2. Helping expand your loved one's real life friends can help. Having dinner, or going out with another couple requires time away from social media, and many who suffer FOMO affects reported feeling deprived with their social interactions.
3. With teens getting them more involved with school sports or interests groups helps them learn to have more real life social experiences.
4. Set boundaries in your home between work, school and family. No matter how advanced we become there is still proof that family dinners help build family teamwork and resilient children.
We will never get rid of social media, nor should we. It helps so many in ways that were impossible in the past. However, learning to manage social media in your life means understanding its impact on you as well as those you love. If you suffer from FOMO the first step is to eliminate the causes. If your child is spending six to eight hours a day on social media, checking status of friends to make sure they aren't missing out, then you as a parent can help restructure their time so they feel confident and less vulnerable to being left out. Social media is not the problem. However, if you are checking compulsively to deal with your own anxiety or fear that is a problem. As always, begin with empowering you. -Mary Jo Rapini
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