FOMO in Adolescents: What You Need to Know

What is FOMO? Find out what it's about and how you can help your teenager with this situation.
FOMO in Adolescents: What You Need to Know
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” This condition can occur in people of any age, but FOMO in adolescents is particularly common. It refers to the fear of not participating in your circle’s social activities.

The physical and relational changes that adolescents experience make their insecurities more evident. This process becomes more complex if we take into account that we live in the digital age.

A person’s popularity and acceptance seems to be measured by the number of followers they have on social media.

How does FOMO affect adolescents?

The main consequence of this syndrome is that young people feel they have a low social status. As a result, they experience anxiety, stress and a sense of inferiority that can be difficult to control and even to detect.

Other effects of FOMO in adolescents include:

  • The compulsive desire to interact through social networks and post photos of every place they visit and activity they do. They also have an excessive interest in seeing how others react to their posts. They spend more time online than interacting in real life.
  • In severe cases of the syndrome, it can lead to extreme dissatisfaction that causes physical and mental health problems. Sudden changes of mood, feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem begin to occur. The mixture of all these factors easily becomes a difficult depression to deal with.
    FOMO in Adolescents: What You Need to Know
  • Viewing a profile on a social network is like watching the preview of a movie in which only the scenes that draw attention are put in. Thus, the children end up idealizing people and situations that are worthy of admiration for them.
  • Another dangerous aspect that can be triggered by this syndrome is the loss of privacy. Teenagers’ desire to get followers, “likes,” and responses from their contacts can be unhealthy. It’s common for kids not to use privacy options to be more visible in a social network.

A change in self-image, envy among peers, judgments toward others, and a decrease in concentration are also attitudes that result from this disorder.

“FOMO (fear of missing out) is the fear of getting lost, a phobia that the virtual world has created, of not being part of other people’s pleasant experiences.” 

–Doctor José Alejandro Medina–

Tips to face FOMO in adolescents

If your teenager experiences this condition, you can help by showing other perspectives of the situation. This is known as rethinking, and the goal is to modify negative thought patterns.

Other recommendations for FOMO in adolescents include:

  • Track negativity. A good way to achieve this is to write down negative feelings in a journal to find out how often they arise. In this way, situations that trigger anxiety can be identified.
FOMO in Adolescents: What You Need to Know
  • Control the use of technology. Propose a hobby and nurture a talent in your teen to promote real world interaction. The unfiltered information that teenagers receive from social media is one of the main causes of FOMO in adolescents. It’s not bad that they are active online, as long as they have other hobbies that focus on reality.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques. These exercises help people focus on what they are doing. When a state of mental fullness is achieved, the brain concentrates on each activity. There is no time to accommodate stress and anxiety.
  • Help your teen be aware of the separation between real life and the world of social media. Children should know that their favorite celebrity’s party and travel pics don’t reveal a perfect life. Like any human being, they spend many nights in bed watching TV or at family gatherings.

It’s difficult to be an adolescent in today’s society. They digitize and publish every experience. It’s important that you guide your children as they develop their character and tolerance to frustration.

With an appropriate foundation, the disadvantages of social networks will be minor. You’ll contribute to the formation of a healthy and socially skilled adult.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Yana Salluca, M., Sucari Turpo, W. G., Adco Valeriano, H., Alanoca Gutierrez, R., & Yana Salluca, N. (2019). El síndrome del FOMO y la degeneración del lenguaje escrito en los estudiantes de educación básica. Comuni@ cción, 10(2), 131-139.
  • Santana-Vega, L. E., Gómez-Muñoz, A. M., & Feliciano-García, L. (2019). Uso problemático del móvil, fobia a sentirse excluido y comunicación familiar de los adolescentes. Comunicar: Revista Científica de Comunicación y Educación, 27(59), 39-47.
  • Zamata, L. W. C., & Salluca, M. Y. (2017). EL SÍNDROME DEL FOMO EN LOS DESEMPEÑOS ACADÉMICOS. Revista de Investigaciones (Puno)-Escuela de Posgrado de la UNA PUNO, 6(3), 280-286.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.