Impact of FOMO on Kids due to Social Media – Symptoms & Detection

Take a good look at the sketch below. It closely depicts a real-life situation of kids’ gatherings in our society these days.

Sketch of kids engrossed in Devices rather than interacting or playing games.

What is FOMO?

Peer Pressure and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Social media can intensify feelings of peer pressure and FOMO, making children feel they need to conform to certain standards or participate in certain activities to be accepted.

At Gigglle, we did a quick research on FOMO and its impact on kids. The research is ongoing and we intend to learn from the outcome and build features to mitigate the effects of FOMO in our young ones. Meanwhile, here is some information we have gathered about this topic. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

The impact of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on kids due to social media usage is a topic of increasing concern. FOMO describes the feeling that others might be having rewarding experiences that one is missing out on, which is particularly amplified by social media usage.

A meta-analysis by Fioravanti et al. in 2021, integrating results from 33 studies with over 21,000 participants, revealed a clear link between FOMO and problematic social media use.

People with higher FOMO levels were more prone to problematic social media use and also exhibited higher levels of depression, anxiety, and neuroticism. Interestingly, the study found that the age and gender of the participants did not significantly influence this effect.

In terms of statistics, a significant proportion of young people report using social media “almost constantly.” In 2022, over one-third of 13-17-year-olds and 38% of kids aged 8-12 admitted to using social media.

This frequent use can influence them in a variety of ways, both positively and negatively. On the one hand, social media can offer social connections and learning opportunities. However, on the downside, it can lead to content overload, exposure to unhealthy content, and contribute to issues like depression and anxiety. The causal relationship between social media use and mental health issues like depression remains complex and not fully understood.

FOMO’s prevalence is notably high among teenagers who value social acceptance and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors in the presence of their peers. This susceptibility to FOMO can lead to negative physical and mental health effects such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, sleeplessness, and mood swings.

Symptoms of FOMO in kids

Symptoms of FOMO in Kids

  • Constant checking of social media and online platforms: Even while participating in activities, kids with FOMO might frequently check their phones or computers to see what others are doing. This can disrupt their focus and enjoyment of the present moment.
  • Fear of missing out on events and experiences: They might show exaggerated anxiety about missing out on parties, social gatherings, or even seemingly mundane school events. This often leads to pressuring parents or friends to participate in everything, regardless of personal preferences or commitments.
  • Feeling excluded or left out: Even when surrounded by friends, they might harbor a persistent feeling of being excluded or missing out on the main action. This can manifest as low mood, negativity, or withdrawal.
  • Negative comparison to others: They might constantly compare themselves to peers on social media, highlighting perceived differences in experiences, possessions, or popularity. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
  • Obsessive posting and attention-seeking behavior: Seeking validation and reassurance through online platforms, kids with FOMO might overshare details of their lives and activities, hoping to garner comments and reactions. This can lead to an unhealthy dependence on external approval.
  • Difficulty prioritizing and making choices: The fear of missing out can make it challenging for kids to make decisions and prioritize activities. They might struggle to say no to commitments for fear of being excluded from something else.
  • Negative emotional reactions: When unable to participate in everything or when exposed to FOMO-inducing social media content, kids might display negative emotions like anxiety, sadness, frustration, or anger.
  • Impact on real-life relationships: Constant preoccupation with online activities and FOMO can hinder the development of strong, meaningful relationships in the real world. Kids might neglect face-to-face interactions and struggle to connect authentically with friends and family.
  • Changes in sleep patterns and eating habits: In severe cases, FOMO can disrupt sleep patterns due to late-night screen time and lead to unhealthy eating habits as a coping mechanism for negative emotions.
  • Social anxiety and low self-confidence: Chronic FOMO can contribute to social anxiety and low self-confidence, making it difficult for kids to feel comfortable and confident in social situations.

Remember: These are just some common signs, and the intensity and expression of FOMO can vary greatly between individuals. It’s important to consult with a professional if you are concerned about your child’s emotional wellbeing or suspect they might be struggling with FOMO.

How to Detect FOMO in your child?

To detect FOMO in kids, watch for signs like compulsive checking of social media, heightened anxiety about missing out on events or activities, changes in mood related to social media use, and excessive concern about peer approval and social status. It’s important for parents to encourage a balanced lifestyle that includes offline interactions and to foster open communication about online experiences.

To mitigate these effects, it’s suggested that teenagers engage in offline hobbies and activities, understand the often idealized nature of social media portrayals, and have limits set on their online time.