The pandemic has given us the way forward to sustain and survive while keeping ourselves socially distant. The virtual valley is now the home to millions of digital natives benefiting their lives from the fruits of services this valley offers. Unfortunately, social media websites are heavily consuming fruits, especially by teenagers during the covid-19 pandemic. Eventually, the overuse of such platforms leads teens to engage in addictive behaviour, affecting their social and cognitive health. Researchers believe that this addiction can be the reason to cope with feelings of anxiety and loneliness that adolescents experience during quarantine, and FOMO is one such anxiety.
According to Gladwell, Fear of missing out (FoMO), also referred to as anxiety of missing out in some studies, involves a fear of missing out on someone’s unique experiences and can be regarded as a subcategory of stress. To put it another way, FOMO describes the annoying feeling that other people may be experiencing something fun and extraordinary but that you are missing out on it. Studies suggest that you may automatically turn to social media when experiencing that feeling of missing out to feel better and more connected. Unfortunately, humans are biologically wired to desire face-to-face connection. FOMO is not an itch that you can easily scratch by checking Facebook, scrolling Instagram, and indulging in TikTok videos. That scratching may make teens tingle even more.
Why Is FOMO Worse for Teens During a Pandemic?
Confining at home and socially distant behaviour can be the two significant reasons that elevate FOMO during the pandemic. In adolescents, social comparison processes are automatically activated, triggering them to rely on peers to gain approval, feel good about themselves, and reduce uncertainty. Recent research highlights that feelings of loneliness might worsen among adolescents when all physical, social contacts are cut off in lockdown, which may negatively relate to happy feelings. Here come social networking sites to rescue and fulfil the essential function of connection by helping teens grow their social hub via online interactions.
How Can FOMO Be Overcome?
It is a common sight to witness teenagers constantly scrolling their phones, especially during pandemic lockdowns. Certain factors need to look after as they triggered FOMO among teens.
- Parents need to be mindful of their child’s virtual activity since it tends to keep the brain on high alert. The overuse of gadgets prevents the child from falling asleep and can destroy the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel tired.
- Engaging the child in mind-boosting activities like concentration games, breathing exercises, or brain-body coordination workouts constructively helps to minimize FOMO among teens.
- Research suggests that practising gratitude really works as it correlated with lower stress levels and better quality of life.
- Gratitude can be practised by writing down at least one thing you are thankful for or appreciating someone by texting or calling them.
- Some studies that suggest limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may significantly improve well-being, including reducing loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
As humans, we are social creatures and always crave a social life, making us dependent on interacting with each other and social networking platforms achieve all such cravings, especially during lockdowns. The best way to appreciate this resource is by using it effectively and responsibly.