Fear of Missing Out: Are we infecting our kids with FOMO?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series FoMO
WikiWorld Greg Williams cartoon Helicopter Parent

Interested in the problems posed by Helicopter Parents? I wrote an earlier series about parenting that you can see by clicking on this image.

incessant fear of missing out is usually considered a problem of the young. There’s no doubt that Millennials suffer FOMO, especially those who are hyperactive users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

But many people fear missing out and parents are chief among them. In fact, futurist Faith Popcorn predicts that FOMO will become the “disorder du jour for helicopter parents.”

I may be Exhibit #1.

Last year, my son was involved in an overwhelming mix of extracurricular activities. In addition to his schoolwork, his weekly schedule included travel soccer (practices and games), martial arts, music (lessons, recitals, auditions), multiple Science Olympiad practices, and more. He had two or three events a day after school. My wife and I were continually driving him here and there. It was stressful for all of us.

We never intended for him to be over-committed. He was interested in each activity. But it was fear of missing out that created the overwhelming situation. He shouldn’t miss out, we thought, on any activity he wanted to try. What if Science Olympiad kindled an interest in science as a career? We can’t have him miss that opportunity. What if he demonstrated athletic talent and skill in soccer? He should have the opportunity to give it a shot. And music—can’t have him miss all the opportunities there. His interest in music might blossom into a career.

Social comparison fueled the fear of missing out. Other parents had their kids in many after-school activities. Wouldn’t we be remiss as parents if we didn’t do the same? We had to make sure he didn’t miss out.

Never again.

We learned our lesson. He can’t do everything. Choices have to be made. Hard as it is, he’ll have to miss out on some things.

Does FOMO influence your family decisions?
Are your kids overcommitted?
What are your guidelines for making good choices?

Start a conversation …

That’s the purpose of the OurValues project. We encourage civil discussion on important topics of the day. You are free to print out, repost and share these columns with friends. You can use them in your small group or class. Enjoy this week’s series!

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Series Navigation<< Fear of Missing Out: Does FOMO drive the tragedy of the commons?Fear of Missing Out: How about JOMO? (Joy of Missing Out!) >>