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Tech News

Got FOMO? Practical Tips for Easing Social Media Anxiety 

Last week we discussed that while being a really valuable tool, media-using teens may feel stressed at times. Here's how you can help. 
Teens text, tweet, snap, and post like crazy. In fact, about half of teens use social media every day, and for some, this means checking Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat dozens (or hundreds!) of times a day. While many teens find connecting with friends online a positive experience, some just feel stressed out. This social media-specific anxiety has a name: FOMO, also known as "fear of missing out." FOMO can take many forms, but more generally, it's the sense that exciting stuff is happening online constantly and if you're not online too, you're missing out. While it might sound like a trivial acronym, it can have very real consequences. As we discussed last week, this can lead to poor sleep quality, anxiety, and even depression. Parents can help. If you see your children struggling - maybe they're always stressed out after being on the phone/device or they're staying up too late texting - step in. 

  • Listen It can be easy to dismiss social media stress as superficial, but for many tweens and teens, social media is social life. The more you show you care about how they feel, the more open they’ll be. 
  • Try not to judge Snapchat seems a little dumb, doesn't it? But for tweens and teens, connecting with their peers is a normal part of child development. For us, it meant hours on the phone. 
  • Encourage their offline lives FOMO can chip away at children's self-esteem, but the best defense is a strong sense of what makes children unique, worthy, and valuable. Help children participate in sports, clubs, drama, or volunteer work to help them endure the ups and downs of social media anxiety. 
  • Set limits After all the listening and corroborating is over, set some basic limits around when and where the phone or computer can be used. Start with turning devices off an hour before bedtime and storing them in your room to help children resist the temptation to stay up late texting. You can suggest they tell their friends they'll be signing off at a specific time, so they won't be expecting a response. 
  • Shift the focus If children are feeling overwhelmed by keeping up with all the social paraphernalia online, encourage them to focus on the creative side of Instagram, for example, instead. Entering photo contests or building a portfolio can shift the focus to the positive and even learning side of social media. 
  • Ask open-ended questions You don't need to solve their problems for them, but you can help them think about what is and isn't working for them.

Here are some questions to try: 
> Are there any habits you might want to change? (Such as not checking your phone before bed.) 
> What would happen if you turned off your phone? For an hour? A day? Digital Detox? 
> What are the pros and cons of using Instagram, Facebook and other social-networking apps? 
> What would happen if you unfollowed or unfriended someone who was making you feel bad on social media? 
> Do you notice that you have better or worse reactions to posts or messages depending on how you feel that day? 

Citation: "Got FOMO? Practical Tips for Easing Kids' Social Media Anxiety." Practical Tips for Easing Kids' Social Media Anxiety. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.