Picture this: You are scrolling through your Facebook feed and come across a photo of all of your friends having a blast. But suddenly you notice something is missing– you.
This reality is something that teens face every day in their social media-filled lives. They are experiencing FOMO (the fear of missing out), a term that was actually added to the dictionary back in 2013.
“[I spend] about three hours a day [on social media],” said a Holliston High School junior, who asked not to be named. “If I see a picture of my friends and I wasn’t there, it can hurt.”
Social media has the ability to consume teens, and according to HHS’s psychologist, Ms. Mikaela Kitka, it can be difficult for teens to spend time alone with their own thoughts because they “always want to be connected.”
Marc Greenberg, a parent of an HHS student, even said that his child can often be “too absorbed in what is happening in social media to recognize what is happening in the present.”
All kinds of people recognize FOMO– even your parents see this issue becoming more prominent in today’s society.
“[FOMO is] absolutely, 100% [a problem]. The unfortunate thing with social media is that it is not social and very one-dimensional,” said Diane Zinck, a parent of an HHS junior.
Not only can the fear of missing out lead to teens being consumed by social media but it leads to feelings of depression in teens, as well.
As noted in a Psychology Today article from January written by Linda and Charlie Bloom, “FOMO frequently provokes feelings of anxiety and restlessness, often generated by competitive thoughts that others are experiencing more pleasure, success, or fulfillment in their lives than they are.”
Ms. Kitka said that depression is the most common issue regarding teens and social media because social media allows people to say things to others that they wouldn’t necessarily say to their face.
In relation to FOMO, teens may post photos to social media sites that don’t include a particular person but might not be able to explain why this person was excluded if confronted about it.
It is important to recognize signs of depression, and if you begin to feel left out because of social media “feel free to turn it off,” said Ms. Kitka.
But most importantly, teens need to understand that what they see on social media may be far from the truth, and they should not compare their lives to those of others. Teens may post themselves at their most happy to appear more successful, and it’s just not realistic for other teens to compare themselves to these “perfect” photos.
Also, teens tend to post the positive side of bad situations on social media.
“Most people don’t post about a fight with their boyfriend but post the flowers he might send after [the fight],” said Ms. Kitka.
Ms. Kitka tells teens to “remind themselves- Am I looking at reality or what people want me to perceive?”