The acronym “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out,” is everywhere on social media. If you aren’t aware of this term, it pretty much describes the fear that everyone is having fun without you. For many teens and adults alike, this fear of missing out has made social media and the internet very hard to get away from.
Old habits, new technology
The fear of missing out is nothing new. For centuries, publications have had sections discussing society gatherings and parties that surely made some people feel like they could be doing something more exciting with their lives.
In fact, these behaviors have probably been evident throughout the entire history of mankind. Except they didn’t have smartphones or laptops. Instead of occasionally glimpsing at some description of a festival you couldn’t attend in a newspaper, smartphones give us a constant reminder that there’s something we’re missing out on.
Hits young people hard
For pre-teens and teenagers, this constant reminder can cause anxiety and even depression. Adolescents feel the need to impress their peers in order to fit in. When they see pictures and Facebook statuses about their friends and frenemies having fun without them, it can be absolutely devastating.
Additionally, the need to be constantly updated about other people’s lives on social media has caused young people to not be engaged as much in their own lives. At the dinner table and at the very same social gatherings that make other people feel like they’re missing out, teens constantly check and update their social media because of this anxiety.
A potentially dangerous issue
The fear of missing out might not seem like something that could threaten lives, but it definitely can. Thirteen percent of teen drivers involved in car crashes have admitted to texting or talking on their cell phones during the crash. That means 13 percent of teen drivers were so afraid of missing out on their social lives, they risked their lives and the lives of others for it.
It’s also led to huge problems with sleep deprivation. A large amount of teens get inadequate sleep because they’re up all night on their phones, checking to see what their peers are up to. Inadequate sleep in teens can cause weight gain, acne, aggressive behavior and decreased school performance.
If this fear of missing out is causing your daughter to have anxiety issues, and she’s beginning to use social media in an inappropriate fashion, it might be time to seek professional help. Asheville Academy for Girls is a residential treatment center in a traditional boarding school environment that helps young girls ages 10-14 struggling with emotional and behavioral issues, such as anxiety and depression.