Can we fight FOMO while raising digital citizens?

by Priyanka Raha ~ May 24, 2018

BetterDigitalPractices

Apparently ‘Fear of Missing Out’ is a real term. All throughout this article I will be using the acronym FOMO, well because it sounds much cooler. FOMO first originated in the early 2000s in a Harvard Business School article*, to describe grad students’ frantic, text-driven social lives. Facebook did not exist then and neither did a million other social networks.

The arrival of social media has definitely supercharged FOMO. In 2013 this clever term was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary. It reads ‘Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media’. 

I have thought about it – Am I a victim of FOMO? But then I tell myself ‘Nah, I am just keeping in touch with everyone and everything.’ There is a fine line between staying in touch and being anxious about it.

Don’t worry, I am not here to paint a grim picture. Quite the contrary, I love how social media adds value to our lives, besides the obvious ‘connecting with your friends’ – recruiting, career building, raising money for a just cause – the list is endless.

Never before has an artist had the power to get into a conversation directly with their audience. What a solace it was for me, as a first-time mom, to read from other mom-posts that my 3-year-old’s behavior is nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Technology provides that mom-in-need the power to reach out to her community, beyond the constraints of geographical boundaries, to tap into the collective knowledge. Tell me you haven’t searched – ’10 fun things you can do with kids’ or ‘Find the best summer camps in town’.

While this is all great, we all worry about distraction and focus. So now we have this important job of teaching our kids to be mindful and responsible while tapping into the social media. Let’s not forget, there is no escaping this and if preached it can truly be very powerful.

My seven year old did a multi-media presentation of him talking about planets as part of a class project. I wasn’t there. His teacher shared it with me and now I can share it with my parents. In terms of teaching our next generation to be better digital citizens,

I am going to lean in to the slogan that Common Sense Education uses – ‘Don’t Make a Ban Have a Plan’. 

Now I want to lean in to all the parents and educators and conscious adults out there.

What are some of your suggestions for meaningful things that kids can do with their devices?

How do you teach your kids to not be afraid of missing out?

How do you teach them better digital practices?

* HBS Article