Monday, January 25, 2016

Five Ways to Raise Digitally Balanced JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) Kids in a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) World

This weekend I took one of my daughters to an exciting high school girls' basketball game, watched three of my kids play in their own basketball games, went both rollerskating and ice skating with my family, went for a run with a neighbor, went to church, took a couple long hikes in the woods with the dog, and more. I took a few pictures and some videos, but didn't post anything on social media. Had I not written about it here, no one would outside my family would have known. I'm OK with that. And I hope to help my kids understand that this is OK, too.

My surprising personal results from the FOMO quiz, despite
answering most questions with "Not at All" or "Slightly True"
Over the past few years I have been decreasing the frequency of both my own posts as well as how often I look at the post of others. During that time, I've read more articles about both FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and more recently learned about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) which have helped me think about how I spend my time and what I share with whom. Recently in another intriguing and thought-provoking Note to Self podcast, Manoush Zomorodi interviewed the creator Caterina Fake, originator of the term FOMO along with Anil Dash, the creator of the term JOMO. I found the conversation fascinating, and could relate personally to much of what they were saying about how and why people use social media, as well as the joy that can be found in not being distracted by trivial information and news. 

Last year as part of my New Year's resolutions, I set a goal to decrease digital distractions, nocializing and FOMO by turning off as many notifications as possible on my devices. I wanted to take control of how often I checked social media tools like Facebook and Twitter as well as email, weather alerts, sport scores, and more. It has been great. A year later, I am certainly not "cured" but definitely less addicted. Making the effort to decide when to open these apps versus allowing them to interrupt and push alerts at me has made a huge difference. I would encourage you to do the same if you haven't already.

I have also been reflecting on how I can help my own children. I think there is a need for us as adults who remember life before social media to help our children understand that not everything needs to be documented and posted. We can help them learn that it is OK not knowing and seeing what others are doing, and you can find freedom, meaning, and even joy in living life without posting about the experience. So, what can we do to help raise digitally balanced JOMO kids in today's FOMO world?  
Source: Bizarro Comics
  1. Model healthy, balanced use. Closely examine our own habits and lives to make sure that we are modeling for children what a healthy balance and use of technology is. In the past I have used the word techcognition to describe a one's self awareness of how technology is used. We need to pay attention to how often we are on our own devices, especially around our own children who are watching us and learning from the model we set. Decrease digital distractions, nocializing and FOMO by turning off as many notifications as possible on your devices.
  2. Be where your feet are, as one of my colleagues says. Don't look at your screen when you're with your kids, spouse, or family. Try it. When you do something together, don't post about it. Experience and enjoy life together with them without needing to post that you did this, modeling that a post (boast?) isn't necessary.
  3. Limit entertainment screen time, whether it is Netflix, video games, or social media. At our house, we have set up entertainment screen time limits of about 30-60 minutes a day. We don't have screens on during meals, don't leave the TV on, and don't have the latest video game systems. When our kids have had their entertainment screen time for the day, we encourage other activities (a board game, LEGOS, ping pong, outdoors). We also use Curbi to filter our children's smartphones and keep tabs on usage, sparking conversations (next tip).
  4. Have frequent conversations about FOMO and JOMO with our children. If we don't discuss this with them, I'm not sure they will ever learn about it. If we had grown up in this socially connected world, would it be possible to even realize the effects of FOMO? Can you even realize something can be different unless you are prompted by someone or experience another way of doing something? As parents, we can be this prompt for our children. Question them about what they post, what their friends post, how they feel about it, how much time the spend looking at posts, who they are connected with in their networks, and so on.
  5. Don't rush into social media. The official legal age to begin using social media tools like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even Snapchat is 13. There is no need to rush into this. In our family, we have held to this and actually not allowed our children to begin using social media until they are in high school. At school we have some great tools that help prepare students to use public social media tools appropriately, such as Schoology, our private social learning management system. I do not see any reason to have kids begin using public social networks earlier than 13. Even at age 15, the only social media tool my daughter uses right now is Instagram. Sure, there were requests from her to begin earlier, but we knew she would have plenty of time in her life to use social media. We believe starting off slowly and forming good habits is important and will benefit her in the long run. 
Do you have other tips or ideas about this? Please let me know. 

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