The FOMO effect ( Fear Of Missing Out ) is defined as “the fear of missing something” . And although it is a concept that has become relevant in recent years, it is nothing new. In the late 1990s, Dr. Dan Herman coined this term.
The concept refers to the fear and anguish that we all experience, but especially young people and adolescents, when they feel that they are going to miss something important. For example, that their friends go to an event that they do not go to, or other examples that we will get to know.
They are afraid of missing out on that fun, and they also know that if something happens there, their classmates will spend days talking about it and they won’t be able to intervene. It is a phenomenon closely linked to the fear of social exclusion at this evolutionary stage. But why is it more common among teenagers?
One of the reasons is the great value they give to social networks, the role they have in their day to day; in a certain way, they feel that if they are permanently connected, they will not miss anything. However, it can also affect them in their relationships or in other areas of their lives.
The FOMO effect and life dissatisfaction
Psychologist Andrew Przybylski, from the University of Oxford, is also one of the first researchers to study this phenomenon. Their studies revealed that the concerns associated with this phenomenon affect young men more, and above all, those who feel dissatisfied with their lives.
This dissatisfaction can increase if they feel that their friends’ lives are more fun, stimulating, complete… and they associate this with the fact that, for example, they make more plans than them, go to more events (and therefore, ” are more popular”), etc.
However, it is clear that this phenomenon can also be experienced by an adolescent who feels good about his life , because in the end it is something widespread among young people, a social phenomenon, and the need not to miss anything is contagious among them.
FOMO effect and social networks
Teenagers want to be up to date with everything, not miss “anything”; find out how that party was, that end of the course, that meeting… or also, the gossip of celebrities, the latest news, trends and developments.
And to find out everything, they turn to social networks, which offer them endless updated information . But what if, for whatever reason, they can’t connect or see all the news at any given time?
That they can experience this phenomenon; In addition, the FOMO effect associated with social networks is linked to the user also having the impression that they are less popular and active than their virtual friends, which generates frustration. That is the level of “hook” of adolescents to social networks.
As Przybylski explains, young people who have a need for human contact but are unable to satisfy that need or lack, feel more uneasy about missing important events or information, which leads them to spend more and more time connected in networks.
Social networks feed this phenomenon
On the other hand, we must take into account that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter favor this fear of “being left behind” ; and it is that the main function of these applications is to make it easier for the user to contact their colleagues and friends, update each other and participate in the lives of others (even if they are far from each other).
Social networks display an overwhelming amount of photos, messages and ads, and have technical features such as “infinite scrolling”, which allows new content to always emerge on the screen. All this favors the FOMO effect.
Teenagers who do not want to give up anything
The FOMO effect also shows up in the lives of our teens beyond social media. Let’s not forget that any decision, however inconsequential it may seem, implies a resignation; and therefore, if adolescents must choose a certain plan, this implies not doing another.
But what if the one they discard is more interesting or exciting than the one chosen? What if friends go to an event that is more interesting? That then they experience this feeling of “missing things”.
Logically, it is impossible to be in two places at the same time (no need to!), but they can experience it that way, as if they were missing something; they feel a certain unease at the thought that the best events are happening without their presence .
Relationships and the FOMO effect
In couple relationships, the FOMO effect is also manifested, for example, when adolescents continue in relationships (perhaps toxic relationships or relationships that do not satisfy them), due to the fear of missing out on something.
That is, because of the fear they feel of losing what they would have experienced with that person if they had not left them. But of course, this is dangerous because it can keep them in relationships that do not benefit them (quite the contrary).
Promote another approach in adolescents
As parents it is important to know this phenomenon to be able to identify it or not, in our children. There is an irrefutable fact, and that is that the time of life is limited, and inevitably we will miss things, and very important things, events in which we could have had a good time.
But we must approach it differently with our children; it is not so much that things are “lost”, but that others live . And sometimes, those things that live can be simply doing nothing, resting, taking a walk or watching a movie; not all plans have to be highly stimulating.
The need to stop and enjoy the little things
It is about enjoying the little things and leaving spaces for rest, away from that need that adolescents have to always be doing fabulous and productive things.
They do not need it, although it is not easy to change their mentality either considering the context in which they live, where social networks, unfortunately, play a central role in their lives.
Definitely; It would be good to work together with our children so that the fact of not always being “up to date” or “everywhere” is experienced normally, and to prevent them from having the false impression that, compared to that of others, their life is bland and sad .
Because your life can be just as wonderful, even if you’re not doing a thousand exciting things at once. There is nothing wrong with being bored or stopping! Quite the contrary.
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