The ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ has been so significant over the last two decades that the word, ‘FOMO’ was actually added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013.
An article published by the Newport Academy (a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in adolescents with mental health issues) said; “A review study on FOMO defined it as “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out—that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.” And three-quarters of young adults reported experiencing this uneasy feeling. Of course, people of all ages experience FOMO. But the study found that people under age 30 feel FOMO more often.”
The article goes on to say that teens have been feeling left out since high school was invented but the increased use of social media and smartphones means that they can now see what their friends or others are doing 24 hours a day.
We easily forget that what we see on social media has been carefully curated to show highlights and good times. The boring, ugly, or everyday life events usually don’t make the cut (although we all know that person who overposts what they are eating or drinking several times a day).
Interestingly, hearing about a fun event from a friend compared to seeing it on social media, resulted in the same amount of FOMO. It’s just these days, most of us have more exposure to social media than we do with direct conversations with friends.
A journal article posted in SpringerLink studied the effects on college students and found that more frequent experiences of FOMO were associated with negative outcomes both daily and over the course of the semester, including fatigue, stress, physical symptoms, and restless sleep.
So, we know FOMO can have negative results and young adults are especially vulnerable to it; what should we do? Fortunately, the same Newport Academy article that outlined the negative effects had seven good, practical solutions to reduce the impact of FOMO on our children:
1. Focus on the positive
“Teens can keep a gratitude journal or a “positivity notebook.” Every day, they can write about what they appreciate about themselves, their life, and their relationships. When we focus on the good things we have, we’re less likely to feel like we’re missing out.”
“As the research shows, limiting social media use increases well-being and reduces FOMO. Parents need to set healthy tech boundaries for teens to protect them from the negative impact of FOMO.”
“The best way to feel better about yourself is to help others. Volunteering for a cause they care about helps teens feel like they’re making a difference. And it gives them a way to be in social situations with a common goal. Plus, it’s an opportunity to unplug.” Unfortunately, it is very difficult to volunteer in a physical way at the moment but you can always ring someone you think may be going through a tough time, send an encouraging text or even ‘snail mail’ a card.
4. Get outside
Being out in nature away from the distractions of phones and social media is a great way to “reset”. It is well known that an important strategy in warding away depression is to exercise. Teens feel better when they’re physically active. Hence, time outdoors counteracts the negative effects of FOMO.
5. Build authentic connections.
“Strong friendships are especially important for teens. And they go a long way toward decreasing the pain of FOMO. When teens feel they have someone who understands and cares about them—and vice versa—fear of missing out isn’t as devastating.” GCC is a wonderful place to make lasting friendships and encourage your teen to attend a local church youth group to widen their friendship group.
6. Do what you love
“A creative pursuit or satisfying hobby increases feelings of self-esteem and mastery. As a result, teens feel better about themselves. Therefore, FOMO holds less sway.”
7. Ask for help
“When a teen has an extreme reaction to FOMO, or can’t stop watching their phone to see what others are doing, a deeper issue may be at play. An assessment by mental health professionals can uncover signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Hence, teens can get the help they need as early as possible.”
FOMO at GCC?
2020 has been the year of missing out for the whole world. However, the fear of missing out is quite different from the fact of missing out.
Even though our losses at GCC are small in comparison with the rest of the world, we still grieve the loss of our Grandparents’ Day, Funfest, Easter and Anzac Services, having parents to cheer their children at the athletic carnivals and we miss our volunteers.
Ironically, it is the digital age and social media that is helping us feel connected at these times. We held virtual a Virtual Anzac Service and Open Day and are posting lots of photos of all the action from the athletic carnivals.
This year is especially challenging for our Year 12 students who had so many events, celebrations and milestones to look forward to but they are not alone. Across the whole world, students are either missing out on traditional events or having to adjust them to the current restrictive environment. Plans are being made on how best to move forward and you will be informed as soon as we confirm details.
The FOMO to embrace at GCC
With the tragic and swift changes in Victoria, there is one very important step I’m asking all of our parents to take so you don’t miss out, or fear missing out of important information.
If you haven’t already done so, please download the Gateway App today. Not only will you be informed of important updates relevant to your child, but you will never have to fear missing out on information because it is all stored on Gateway.
Android users can find the Gateway App on Google Play and those with iPhones will find it on the App Store. It’s easy to download and all the information you need will be at your fingertips.
Mike Curtis, Principal