Emerging research implies that fear of not keeping up with friends, and consequently missing some fun, motivates use of Facebook or Twitter.
Experts say the rise in social media, where we can keep up-to-date with each other’s every movements like never before, has led to the curse of “fear of missing out” (FoMO). And a new study develops a way to measure the concept of FoMO.
The study, to be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, is the first study to investigate the fear of missing out phenomenon — an occurrence that only came to light about three years ago as social media become ever-more accessible with the increase in smart phones.
Lead researcher and psychologist Dr. Andy Przybylski explains that the fear of missing out is not new, but the rise is social media offers a window into other people’s lives like never before.
The problem for people with a high level of FoMO is they may become so involved is seeing what their friends are doing and they are not, they often ignore what they are actually enjoying themselves.
“I find Facebook rewarding to use, but how we are using social media is changing,” said Przybylski. “It is no longer something we have to sit at a computer and log into as we have access all the time on our phones. It is easier to get into the rhythm of other people’s lives that ever before as we get alerts and texts.
“We have to learn new skills to control our usage and enjoy social media in moderation. Until we do, it creates a double-edged sword aspect to social media.”
The research team, which included academics from the University of California and University of Rochester in the United States, devised a way of measuring an individual’s level of FoMO. (If you wish to test yourself to see what your level of FoMO is compared to the people taking part in the study, go to: www.ratemyfomo.com.)
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that researchers found that people under the age of 30 were more affected than others from the fear of missing out. This group saw social media as an important tool for them and they were more dependent on social media as part of their social development.
Przybylski also discovered that social factors were important. That is, if people’s “psychological needs were deprived” they were more likely to seek out social media. In this case, the FoMO concept explains how individuals feel more connected and why some people use social media more than others.
Researchers found that individuals with a high level of fear of missing out were more likely to give into the temptation of composing and checking text messages and e-mails while driving. These individuals were also more likely to get distracted by social media during university lectures, and had more mixed feelings about their social media use.
Investigators hope that the findings will prompt more investigation into the fear of missing out and how it influences people’s well-being.
Source: University of Essex