High school is a jungle of popularity and cliques for the students. In this jungle of an educational compound, students either form a pack or travel alone. To assimilate with the larger more-popular packs, all one has to do is walk the walk and talk the talk; even if that walk is abusing alcohol.
The fear of missing out
Most teens live off of social media, feeling acceptance or rejection from peers. Peer pressure has been around long before social media, but a self-inflicted peer pressure has received a new name: FoMO — the fear of missing out.
FoMO is especially prevalent in social media, controlling a teenager’s life. Michael Hogan, Ph.D., delves into the negative effects of FoMO on Facebook and social media. These effects include:
From seeing posts of others or hearing stories in the school halls, some students feel haunted by the notion of being left out. Teenagers feeling disconnected from others might attempt more elaborate and dangerous stunts in order to be noticed.
Students may abuse alcohol or other illicit substances to fit in. The Monitoring the Future Study finds 64 percent of 12th graders consumed alcohol in 2015.
FoMO and college
The notion of teenage experimentation as an accepted phase or rite of passage, misleads many to substance use and eventually addiction. The Department of Psychology at the University of Otago, New Zealand, published a 2015 study on the relationship between FoMO and alcohol consumption in college students.
432 participants were involved in this study through two separate experiments. Participants filled out a FoMO scale in which they rated how strongly they are afraid of being left out of gatherings and spending time with friends. “Those more likely to ‘fear missing out’ reported twice as many instances of alcohol related harm over the past three months,” the study finds. Participants willingly continued these antics, even though they felt embarrassed or hurt.
Students ranked with a higher level of FoMO, drank almost twice as much as students who had lower levels of FoMO.
Again, society labels binge drinking par for the course in college but the mounting regret and negative self-perceptions of study participants who experienced FoMO is notable. Around 25 percent of participants felt worse about themselves and had less energy throughout the day due to drinking. Overall, the fear of missing out drives teenagers toward conditions of depression or anxiety.
Parents need to help teenagers address these issues early on, instead of letting the fear of missing out navigate a teen’s experience. Help the teenager get involved with extracurricular activities at school or in other programs. A teenager who finds his or herself an integral part of a community or activity will be less inclined to throw it all away for acceptance.
Teenagers struggling with substance abuse or mental illness may need more extensive care. The Rancho San Diego Sovereign Health Facility treats mental health and substance abuse issues in teenagers ranging from ages 12 to 17. Patients embark on a personalized rehabilitative program filled with group therapy, cathartic activities and personal healing – FoMO isn’t a lasting condition here.
Call our 24/7 helpline and begin treatment today.
Written by Nick Adams Sovereign Health Group writer