Dr. Tracy Bennett
Dr. Tracy Bennett
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We’ve all been there. Stuck at work, school, or home. We pick up our phone and click on Instagram. There’s BFF Julie on her amazing trip to Japan – 150 likes in 42 minutes. Then check out Twitter. There’s co-worker Andrew’s fun video of an amazing concert at the coolest venue in town. His text post fetched 27 comments. “Wow! That looks so fun!” “I’m so glad I ran into you last night!” “Did you get the pictures I sent you?” You put your phone down and instantly get hit with a wave of sadness. Everybody seems to be having more fun than you. Are you going about life all wrong?


FOMO or “fear of missing out” is a form of social anxiety in response to seeing activities streamed on social media. These feelings can blossom into immediate disappointment or long-term feelings of inadequacy. You know you should be happy. You’re ashamed of it. But still … people who experience FOMO the most tend to be extremely active on social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.[1]

Who suffers from FOMO?

Although FOMO adversely affects all ages, recent studies conclude that FOMO is most common among teens. Nearly 60% of teenagers experience anxiety when they become aware of plans being made without them or can’t get ahold of their friends. Another 63% are upset when they have to cancel plans with friends.[2] Of the other age groups, an overwhelming 61% of subjects aged 18-34 state they have more than one social media account, while 27% state they check their Facebook feeds immediately upon awakening.[3]


FOMO Risks

  • Compulsive social media checking that gets in the way of everyday activities and leads to texting and driving, like “snap and drive” which is careless driving while Snapchatting.
  • Inability to prioritize important responsibilities over fun social media posting.
  • Posting shocking activities like binge drinking and drug use.
  • Spending lots of money to post expensive designer items.[4]
  • The constant need to feed is a sure-fire way to develop feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. FOMO makes us feel lonelier, inferior, and less successful.[5]

Reducing FOMO Anxiety

Get real.

A fun post here and there is not reflective of the “perfect” life. Everybody hurts sometimes, even the pretty ones.

Cop to it.

Once you admit to it, it’s easier to control it and create a plan of action to work through it.[6]

Be in the present.

Practice mindfulness techniques like anchoring – attending to your current surroundings, what you see, feel, hear, smell, and your breathing.[7]

Recommit to your nonvirtual life.

Pet that dog you always see on your way to work. Stop and smell the flowers. Read a book in the park. Give yourself ample time to finally finish that term paper or work project. Commit to doing one of those today, right now!

Temporarily detox.

If momentary disconnection is a struggle, delete apps off your phone and use psychological wellness app support. Cool detox apps include MomentFlipd, and Forest. Detox apps offer fun and clever incentives to get off your phone. For instance, Forest incites you to not open social media by illustrating breaks with forest growth and how large and lush and large you can grow your forest.[8]

Seek counseling.

If all else fails, talk it out. Since FOMO is seen as a cognitive distortion, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be highly effective by offering thought reconstructing tools. In other words, identifying stinking thinking and replacing it with can-do thinking.[9] Fewer social media posts may mean a fulfilling life is being lived off camera rather than no life is happening at all.

Thank you to Tammy Castaneda for contributing this GKIS article. Fomo is becoming an increasing problem for kids and adolescents. If your child is still in elementary school, hold off until middle school before you allow their first social media app. If your teen showing problematic behavior, take action. To prevent clinical symptoms related to screen use, check out our  GKIS Connected Family Online Course. In 10 easy steps, you can learn how to encourage healthy screen habits and a happier household.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty

Works Cited

[1] Barker, E. (2016, June 07). How to Overcome FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from http://time.com/4358140/overcome-fomo/

[2]Teens suffer highest rates of FOMO. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.psychology.org.au/news/media_releases/8Nov2015-fomo/

[3]Murphy, S. (2013, July 09). Report: 56% of Social Media Users Suffer From FOMO. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from https://mashable.com/2013/07/09/fear-of-missing-   out/#Rq7CGeSlYiqb

[4]What is FOMO? (And How the Fear of Missing Out Limits Your Personal Success). (2018,   July 27). Retrieved September 14, 2018, from https://www.developgoodhabits.com/fear-of-missing-out/

[5]The Fomo Health Factor. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12, 2018, from https://www.psychoogytoday.com/us/blog/media-spotlight/201611/the-fomo-health-factor

[6]Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2018, from https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/tips-get-over- your-fomo-or-fear-missing-out

[7]Guerra, J. (2018, August 24). Science Says Some People Struggle With FOMO More Than    Others, So Here’s How To Cope. Retrieved September 18, 2018, from      https://www.elitedaily.com/p/how-to-deal-with-fomo-if-youre-someone-whos-easily-affected-by-it-according-to-science-8880093

[8]Forest. (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.forestapp.cc/en/

[9Staff, G. (2016, April 14). Overcoming FOMO: What Fuels Your Fear of Missing Out? Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/overcoming-fomo-what-fuels-your-fear-of-missing-out-0418167

                                                            Photo Credits

photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Photo by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

Photo by Maid Milinkic on Unsplash

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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