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What is FOMO and YOLO and How They Hurt Teens

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FamiSafe lets parents control screen time, track real-time location and detect inappropriate content on kids' devices.

Everyone must have experienced FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) at some point in their lives. Equally, you must have used the YOLO (You Only Live Once) term to experience self-satisfaction. While these two teen slangs have been trendy before, they are so uncool these days. Teens spend lots of time on smartphones and computers, making FOMO and YOLO real societal concerns. So, in this parental guide, we’ll discuss YOLO and FOMO meaning and the impact they can have on your child. We’ll also jot down a few points to prevent these behaviors.

Part 1. What is the meaning of FOMO and YOLO?


The FOMO acronym was invented by Patrick J. McGinnis, an American author, and venture capitalist. He used this term in an editorial page for The Harbus, a Harvard Business School magazine, in 2004. He was describing the frenetic lifestyle of his students who feared missing out on what other students were experiencing. Interestingly, FOMO is a legal term today after being added to the Oxford Dictionary.

Having said that, FOMO is basically having the fear that something interesting is happening elsewhere are you’re missing out a great deal. This can be friends hanging out without you or a viral video raking up views, and you’re not part of it. So, in short, it’s about a certain feeling of inferiority created by social anxiety.

On the other hand, YOLO’s background is more straightforward. The origin of this teen slang dates back to 1996 when Grateful Dead, an American teen band, performed in Mickey Hart’s California ranch. But it was in 2012 that this acronym became widespread among musicians and youths. Canadian rapper, Drake, alongside his American counterpart, Rick Ross, popularized this term in 2011 with their YOLO mixtape.

That aside, YOLO meaning is more adventurous and positive. While FOMO is about fear of missing out on something, YOLO is an affirmation that you’re determined to do something like there’s no tomorrow. In other words, teens use this term to enjoy the present moment to the fullest without thinking about the risk factors.

Part 2. Why is FOMO not the right mentality for teens?


Historically, FOMO has been there since time immemorial. People have always had concerns about where they are in the social world. But today, FOMO has metamorphosed into a worrying trend, thanks to social media and digitalization. Young people are too obsessed with checking Instagram posts, WhatsApp status updates, Facebook messages, and more. Even adults aren’t left out with political and business posts on Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, and so on.

Now consider this; how would you feel with just a single day without your phone or computer? Which app would you open first after getting your phone? Although not factual, the majority would quickly open their SMS or social media apps. You’d want to check who has texted you, who has posted what, and so on. It even gets more frustrating if you don’t get anything interesting. Yes, that’s how far FOMO can take you.

Research by Project Know reveals that teens feel pressured to abuse drugs and alcohol to copy their social media friends and celebrities. The report adds that the teenagers complained of lower self-esteem, a primary mental concern. So, all in all, FOMO can contribute to low self-satisfaction, distraction, and other mental issues.

Tell-tale signs of FOMO:

• Constantly checking social media.

• Feeling the need to respond to social media friends promptly.

• Continually commenting on celebrity posts.

• Posting obsessively on social media.

• Feeling sad and depressed when away from your phone.

Part 3. Why is YOLO bad and how to avoid it?


The “you only live once” buzzword is good and bad in equal measure. On the brighter side, this term can help teenagers appreciate life and the good things that come with it. After all, life is short indeed. Also, research shows that as people get older, they start devoting most of their time doing things that generate a sense of fulfillment and happiness. So, there is no harm in focusing more on more positives of life.

But on the flip side, YOLO can only be beneficial if you employ soberness when making decisions. That’s because this teen slang has been associated with some unruly behaviors among teens and adults alike. For example, a person can tell themselves “YOLO” before impulse buying. Or, a teenager can post “YOLO” when driving at 125 mph.

All said, YOLO-ing can have adverse effects on your teenage child, although the benefits can be immense. On the one hand, YOLO can make you lively and happy. But on the other, YOLO can lead to recklessness and unhealthy behaviors. So, don’t splash the cash on that brand-new iPhone 13 before settling your health insurance or other vital bills.

Common signs of YOLO:

• Impulse buying.

• Making rash decisions.

• Feeling unsatisfied with your own life.

• Lack of proper money management skills.

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Part 4. Tips to Help Your Child Cope with YOLO and FOMO

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to train your kids through FOMO and YOLO. Here are a few:fomo-and-yolo-meaning-1

1. Talk to Them

It’s just a few years before your teenage child becomes a full-grown adult. As such, be more proactive than reactive. Set aside time to talk to your child about the dangers of too much screen time and rushed decisions. For example, teach them to use social media only during specific hours. Also, advise your kid to make sound decisions when fully sober. They shouldn’t make any decision why angry or frustrated.

2. Create Technology-Free Zones

Yes, turning off Wi-Fi or TV might be a natural remedy for FOMO and YOLO. But that’s only if you’re not afraid of teenage backlash. Most teenagers will protest if you decide to make your home a small “prison.” Therefore, create tech-free zones like the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and dining. Doing this ensures your kid doesn’t spend their night on Instagram and TikTok comparing themselves to “fake” celebrities.

3. Encourage Outdoor Activities

Another time-tested method to combat FOMO and YOLO is to encourage your kid to spend more time doing physical activities. Like, enroll in a soccer, music, or tennis academy if you have some money to spare. You can also encourage your child to go hiking or biking during their free time. Just be sure to keep track of all their outdoor activities with a GPS tracker.

4. Teach them money-management

You can also show your teenage child how money works. Remember that it’s your hard-earned money that they spend out there. Tell them that they don’t need a new pair of Nike sneakers when they have several at home. In addition, advise them to avoid buying just because other kids are buying. You can politely explain to them that getting a new premium BOSE headphone is cool, but that’s out of reach for now.

5. Be a Good Example

Lastly, be an admirable role model for your kid. That’s because children copy the things that their parents do. For example, don’t use your phone in the dining room, study room, bathroom, and so on. Also, spend your free time with them doing things like gardening, biking, baking, playing tennis, and so on. To put it simply, lead from the front.

Part 5. Tips to Help Your Child Cope with YOLO and FOMO

All things considered, parents and caregivers must have complete control over what content their children can access online. While most phones have in-built parental control features, they are pretty limited, unfortunately. So, get third-party help to ensure your kid cultivates a healthy digital life. With Wondershare FamiSafe, you can view the apps that your kid spends too much time on and block them. Also, this app can help you detect suspicious or explicit texts when they hit your kid’s inbox or SMS. Plus, it boasts other advanced features like a location tracker, website blocker, YouTube app control, and more. 

How FamiSafe can help prevent FOMO and YOLO:

• Schedule Screen Time – Do you want your kid to use their device for only specific hours? Remotely track your child’s app usage time and block inappropriate apps. It detects the amount of time your kid spends on each app per month, week, or day. So, let’s say it’s Facebook; find the app under the “Screen Time” section and block it. You can also set daily app routines to allow your child a few hours on social media.

• Detect Explicit Texts – Sexting and online bullying have become widespread among teens these days. So, parents need to keep track of their kid’s messaging apps even more. Fortunately, FamiSafe will do the policing for you on 7+ social media apps. You can remotely read your teenage child’s messages on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, SMS, and more. You can even place content keywords to detect unfriendly content quickly.

• Track Location – Sometimes, your child can engage in unnecessary expenditures using your credit card at the park, mall, gas station, etc. So, use FamiSafe to track all their outdoor moves with pinpoint accuracy. You can check whether they are at their uncle’s or shopping at the mall. What’s more, FamiSafe lets you set geofences and know whenever your child enters a marked area.

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FamiSafe lets parents control screen time, track real-time location and detect inappropriate content on kids' devices.

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FOMO and YOLO are real-life feelings that your child is certainly experiencing. But instead of confiscating their credit card and turning off technology at home, talk to your child often about the dangers of too much technology use. Remind them that everything on social media is just for the camera. And don’t forget to explain to your child why you’re using FamiSafe to monitor their digital life and outdoor moves. Tell them it’s for their own good.

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