Friday, February 28, 2020

Fear of Missing Out Linked to Adolescents’ Addiction to Social Media

Fear of missing out—the fear that others may be having fun or rewarding experiences from which one is absent—may make adolescents more sensitive to feeling stress or negative emotions when their friends don’t react to their social media posts, suggests a study in Addictive Behaviors. The researchers wrote that this in turn may prompt excessive social media use and social media addiction as adolescents strive to feel like they belong to a peer group.

Matteo Angelo Fabris of the University of Turin and colleagues studied the relationships between fear of missing out (FoMO), emotional symptoms, and social media addiction in 472 adolescents aged 11 to 19 years. To assess the adolescents’ fear of missing out, they used the FoMO scale, which consists of 10 statements designed to capture a participant’s fears, worries, and anxieties about being out of touch with events, experiences, and conversations among others in their social circle. The researchers used similar assessments to determine the adolescents’ sensitivity to stress in response to being neglected by their peers online, such as whether they would feel stress if their social media posts did not receive any “likes.” The assessments also captured the adolescents’ sensitivity to negative attention online, such as negative comments or a loss of followers on social media, and the adolescents’ overall perceptions of their own emotional distress. Finally, the researchers evaluated the adolescents for social media addiction.

The researchers found that adolescents with high levels of fear of missing out were more likely to experience stress at being ignored or receiving negative comments on social media. They were also more likely to experience greater emotional distress overall and social media addiction.

“[S]pending increasing amounts of time on social media is likely to represent a cognitive-emotional regulation strategy aimed at managing the stress associated with failing to fulfill psychological needs of belonging and popularity,” the researchers wrote. “However, such [a] strategy can be dysfunctional, leading to addictive social media behaviors, and ultimately, an increase in emotional symptoms.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article, “Using Many Social Media Platforms Linked With Depression, Anxiety Risk.”

(Image: iStock/milindri)

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