Social Media FOMO and How to Talk About it With Teens

Last Updated on March 2, 2023 by Ellen Christian

Have you had to discuss social media FOMO with your teens? Or is it a problem that you’re struggling with yourself? Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a relatively new phenomenon. But, it’s something that many children, teens, and even adults struggle with every day. It’s that fear that someone else is doing or seeing something that you aren’t involved in. So, according to studies, social media FOMO can lead to depression in both teenagers and adults. Social Media FOMO and How to Talk About it With Teens

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How to Discuss Social Media FOMO With Your Teens

As a blogger, I love social media. And, I spend a lot of time online each day working on and checking out my favorite social media sites. My kids are 18 and 23, so we don’t set limits on their cell phone or social media use any longer. We hope that by this age they’ve learned how to use it appropriately. But, FOMO isn’t something that only happens with children and teenagers. Even as an adult, I find myself checking Facebook and Instagram even when I shouldn’t be working just to see who’s doing what and what I might be missing.


What is FOMO in social media?

As adults, we (hopefully) understand that our worth isn’t tied to what event we were or weren’t invited to or whether or not we were chosen to receive that new refrigerator all of the bloggers are buzzing about. Our kids may not have developed that understanding yet. So, that’s why social media FOMO can be such an issue with them. Have you ever seen your teenager dejected over the party *everyone* was going to that they didn’t get invited to attend? Or that their best friend is at the mall with someone else (and didn’t ask them to come along)? Social media lets your child know instantly what they might be missing out on because everyone shares their status updates.

teenager sitting alone

If you’ve wondered how to discuss social media FOMO with your teens, I wanted to share a few tips that have worked for me. It’s not an easy topic. And, it’s probably not one that your teens are going to be enthusiastic about solving. But, it is a necessary discussion to have. Chances are they’ll deny it’s a problem in the beginning.

How to discuss social media FOMO with kids

  • Talk to your kids early and often about social media FOMO. Help them understand that their self-worth isn’t tied to how many likes they get on their status update or their new profile photo. Get your kids used to talking to you about what they’re doing on social media. I’ve always told my kids that I would rather see what they’re doing and not agree with it than not see it.
  • Limit the amount of time they spend on social media. While this is difficult once your teenager gets older, it’s possible for your younger child. Do try to set limits like no cell phones in the bedroom which will limit late-night social media usage.
  • Encourage unplugged times. Get the family together for a weekend outing and declare it an unplugged time. Have everyone leave their cell phones at home. If you need to, bring yours with you in the case of an emergency but be sure to leave it in the glove box in the car.
  • Lead by example. Your kids are not going to willingly limit their time on their cell phone or believe you when you discuss the dangers of social media FOMO if they see you on your phone 24/7.

How to Discuss Social Media FOMO With Your Teens

  • Let your child know you are there for them to talk to. Have an honest discussion with your child about what they see on social media. Let them know that you’ll listen to them without being judgmental. 

Shows you can watch together

So, it’s not easy to discuss these topics with your kids. Thankfully, Netflix has a number of different shows you can watch to get the conversation started. From peer pressure with Fuller House to Social Media FOMO with Girl Meets Boy. Parents of younger children may want to tackle sibling rivalry with Babee’s Room.

You can watch a variety of family-friendly shows that explore a range of real-life issues with equal measures of humor, angst, and heart. So, no matter your situation, chances are there’s a show and episode that can kickstart a dialogue around the topic just by watching it together. So, it’s never too late to start talking because it’s the first step.

Finally, how will you discuss social media FOMO with your kids? Or, you can learn more about teaching teens manners.

12 thoughts on “Social Media FOMO and How to Talk About it With Teens”

  1. My son is a preteen, but yes, this is definitely an issue. We have discussed how anyone can look like they have and do everything in photos and posts. We likened it to how advertising works to make a product look like you actually will not survive if you don't get it.
  2. Great tips and a timely post since our tweens just got phones. So far we limit the apps and social media they use on them but I know it will only get worse with age.
  3. Very important tips! I discuss social media regularly with my kids. Very important for them to understand how to use it safely. 
  4. I need to be better about being on my phone checking social media. These are really good tips to keep in mind as my daughter gets older, and I really do need to set a good example for her by learning to unplug once in a while and having a set time for when I will be off my phone
  5. I have been trying to cut back on my time on line.   It really is crazy how much social media can suck you into all the time with out you realizing it. 
  6. I never used to check social media too much but since the increased threats of terror, I've been checking more often. I'm finding it relieves a little anxiety to find out for the day that nothing deadly happened, so I can certainly see how it can affect teens in so many other ways. Being a good example is one of the best ones on your list I think. Setting a time or checking a certain time has been helpful for me. I've even increased my exercise (mostly yoga especially) to deal with the anxiety, lol.
    • Exercise is a great way to deal with anxiety. I'm trying to be much more aware of when I'm online and limiting social media to times when I'm not trying to do something else. It can be a tough thing for kids and adults to deal with.

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