At one time or another, we’ve probably all experienced the feeling that our friends are out having fun, doing interesting things or just simply meeting up, and for some reason, we didn’t know. It’s called the fear of missing out or FOMA. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to FOMA in today’s super charged social media network, according to a new study.
Experts from the Australian Psychological Society (APS) found FOMO elevates anxiety levels of teenagers and may contribute to depression.
It’s not only teens whose stress levels are increasing due to heavy social media use, but adults are also experiencing more anxiety.
The findings, released in the 2015 National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey, measured the levels of stress that Aussies experience and how the use of social media affects their behavior and wellbeing.
Dr. Mubarak Rahamathulla, a senior social work lecturer at Flinders University who led the report, said that levels of anxiety, stress and depression of Aussies who were involved in the study have increased since the beginning of their survey.
The survey included questions on Aussies' experience on social media, as well as a separate survey containing questions about FOMO for teenagers who were aged 13 to 17 years old. More than half of all the teenagers involved in the survey admit that they use social media 15 minutes before bed every night.
Four in ten of the teens said they use social media when they are in the company of others and one in four said they check in on social media while eating breakfast and lunch every day.
The fear of missing out seems to affect teens more that are heavy social media users. About 50 percent of the respondents said they felt the fear of missing out on their friends' inside jokes and events, as well as the chance to show they're having fun on social media.
All this checking in to see what their friends are up to seems to leave some teens feeling like they are living less rewarding lives. For instance, a user may be watching TV at home and decides to casually check and scroll through Facebook. Only, the user sees that his friends have posted photos of them out clubbing and he suddenly feels like he's missing out on something important.
“There is a very strong positive correlation between the hours spent on digital technology and higher stress and depression," said Rahamathulla.
He added that teens today are somehow getting confused between the online world and the real world.
APS member and psychologist Adam Ferrier said that people have always felt the fear of missing out on parties and activities even before the Internet, but social media indeed elevated the FOMO intensely.
Some teens are catching on that too much social media isn’t good for one’s sense of wellbeing. They’ve made the decision to cut back and spend more time with family, doing something they like to do or enjoying a little quiet time alone. But many teens are caught up in the habit of checking on what others are doing and comparing their life to their friends.
Experts agree that parents need to be aware of how much time their child is spending on social media and watch for symptoms of depression or anxiety. Redirecting their attention or requiring that electronics be turned off after a certain hour at night can help them remember that the real world is a good place to visit and hang out for awhile.
Source: Alyssa Navarro, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/104417/20151109/fomo-leads-to-depression-and-anxiety-in-teen-social-media-users.htm