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Let's Talk About FOMO and Social Media...

We've all been there. You are scrolling on social media and post after post are images capturing vacations, friends meeting up for a good time, or beautiful bodies and faces. Everyone seems so happy! They are leading great lives with no problems facing them, and you feel that pit in your stomach. You're jealous! You're sitting there wondering..

Why can't I look like that?

Why didn't they invite me?

Oh, how I wish I could afford to travel.

My outfits never look put together like hers/his/theirs.

Their family looks so close.

They look so happy.

Why aren't I?

This feeling is something we have all experienced at one time or another. Getting caught in the comparison trap and feeling like our life must not be as great as everyone else's. This my friends, is called FOMO, or fear of missing out. Even though this feeling stinks, it's normal! Social media nowadays serves merely as a highlight reel of people's lives, rather than a true representation. Due to this, we constantly consume content that shows us how wonderful everyone else's lives are, and naturally, are left feeling like our's is lacking.

Now, FOMO affects all of us, so how is it affecting children and teens-especially during this pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social media use is at an all time high. Regular events, social interaction, and life experiences are stripped away and limited, so we have all resorted to digital connection. On one hand, social media is a wonderful tool to keep people connected, but unfortunately, it can also become a factor of poor mental health.

Teens more than any other age group are most likely feel the anxiety that arises from the concept of missing out.

In fact, FOMO is fuels anxiety, jealousy, comparisons, and self-doubt. These are real life issues. Social media is a perfect pathway for comparison to start within the mind. In fact, as much as 10% of our daily thoughts are comparison to others in some way. Comparison, FOMO, and more are all side effects of social media that lead to breeding more insecurity and questioning of self-worth in pre-teens/teens.

How can you support the children/adolescents in your life that are suffering the negative effects of social media?

  • Let Them Know Their Feelings Are Valid.

Children and teens in your life may be struggling with social media comparisons and FOMO. We all have been there at one time or another. Relate to them! Allow them to know that their feelings are valid and that you and others have been there before.

  • Encourage The Active Avoidance of Comparison.

Comparison is an extremely easy trap to fall into. Comparison is the thief of joy! Encourage and support your children/teens by pointing out what is amazing about them and their lives! For me, I try to actively stop comparison in its tracks when I catch it whether it is my own thoughts, or someone making a comment about me. Do this with and encourage this active avoidance with the children in your lives. Comparing yourself/themselves to others doesn't change anything and usually only does harm.

  • Focus On The Positive.

It is definitely easier said than done, but encourage your children/teens to focus on what in their lives makes them happy! Identifying what is important to them is a way to narrow in their focus on what matters most.

It's All About Progress...

Again, these tips are easier said than done, and won't eliminate the negative effects of social media and FOMO overnight. However, you can be their rock and encourage them to implement a more positive mindset, and to appreciate what is wonderful about them and their lives.

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