Helping Teens Cope With FOMO

Scrolling on social media, you see a photo of all your friends out together. Sitting at home, you feel a pit in your stomach, and sudden feelings of anxiety. That feeling is called FOMO — and it’s taking its toll on teens everywhere.

What is FOMO?

“FOMO” stands for “fear of missing out” – and is something that affects almost everyone, but especially teens. It encompasses the anxiety one may feel when they realize a social gathering or other event is going on, but they are not attending. Even if teens make the choice not to join their friends for the activity or go to an event, they can still experience FOMO.

FOMO’s Impact on Mental Health

Those who suffer from FOMO tend to assume they have a lower social rank than those around them, causing them to feel left out, and sometimes, inferior to their peers. It can make teens feel less satisfied with their life, and can cause an increase in negative thoughts, a decrease in proper sleep, and a worsening of social anxiety.

Social media takes up so much of many teens’ lives, and is one of the leading contributors to FOMO. Seeing what their friends post online only increases their anxiety surrounding not being involved — however the more teens experience FOMO, the more they will go on social media to see what their friends are doing. This creates a vicious cycle, which can be extremely damaging to teens’ mental health.

How Teens Can Cope

Unfortunately, FOMO is extremely common. In fact, a 2013 study found that almost 75% of young adults experience FOMO regularly. Luckily, there are things teens can do to help deal with these feelings.

1. Take Tech Breaks

The most obvious solution to FOMO is turning off the phone and logging off of social media. Although taking time away from technology will help, those feelings of anxiety and fear of missing out will still be there if teens aren’t distracted. Encourage your teen to fill their time with something else, such as practicing a hobby, going on a hike, or watching a movie. This will keep them focused on what they are currently doing, not thinking about what they are missing.

2. Think Realistically

As a teen, it can be difficult to stay grounded in reality. Often anxious thoughts can overtake reason. Remind your teen to think logically. There is only so much time in their day, so they cannot do everything and be everywhere at once. Make sure they understand how important it is to live a balanced life, and that doing too much can lead to burnout and overall unhappiness. Discuss how photos can be deceiving, so not to believe everything their friends post online. 

3. Practice Mindfulness

Being mindful in a world full of social media can be really hard, yet it’s so important. Intensely focusing on what we are doing in the present moment is one of the most effective ways to combat FOMO. Try helping your teen focus on what they see, hear, smell, or taste. Focusing their mind onto what their body is experiencing will leave no room for feelings of worry or anxiety about what they are missing out on.

Keeping FOMO under control is going to help your teen live a happier, healthier life, and will allow them to appreciate where they are and what they are doing. 

At Tilly’s Life Center, we provide teens with a space to learn all the skills they need to overcome FOMO including mindfulness, anxiety management, and more. To learn more about our virtual workshops, visit