HuffPost Blog – 22 May 2015 – A Cure for the Fear of Missing Out?

For parents, teachers and even clinicians like myself, one of the greatest challenges in helping someone manage their use of devices is that any restriction leads to an agonising fear of exclusion and isolation that is commonly called ‘FOMO’; the ‘Fear of Missing Out’. This is quite distinct from an experience of losing rewards from social media or games, which one might consider a withdrawal response. So what is it, what causes it, how seriously should we take it and how should we as parents, teachers and clinicians manage this?

The agitation and restlessness that can follow switching a smartphone off, which is punishing to witness, does look very similar to withdrawal symptoms as the individual struggles with the disconnection from ‘the stream’. For many young people the benefits of such downtime is simply too high a price to pay for their not knowing about the latest update, video or game, and their participation in the social world is felt to be partial and inferior. Even when they can recognise that less use makes them feel relaxed or refreshed, even brighter in mood, the fear of missing something drives them back to smartphone, tablet or console…

Read the full blog here

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