Posted by drmarkgriffiths
(Please note: The following blog was co-written with Dr. Daria Kuss)
Recent research has suggested that high engagement in social networking is partially due to what has been named the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO). According to Dr. Andrew Przybylski and colleagues in a 2013 issue of Computers in Human Behavior, FOMO is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. The same paper also noted that higher levels of FOMO have been associated with greater engagement with Facebook, lower general mood, lower wellbeing, and lower life satisfaction, mixed feelings when using social media, as well as inappropriate and dangerous social networking site (SNS) use (i.e., in university lectures, and whilst driving).
In addition to this, research by Dr. Frederic Gil and his colleagues in a 2016 issue of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions suggests that FOMO predicts problematic SNS use and is associated with social media addiction, as measured with a scale adapted from the Internet Addiction Test and published by Dr. Ursula Oberst and her colleagues in a 2017 issue of the Journal of Adolescence. It has also been debated whether FOMO is a specific construct, or simply a component of relational insecurity, as observed for example with the attachment dimension of preoccupation with relationships in research into problematic Internet use.
The study led by by Dr Oberst comprised 5,280 social media users from several Spanish-speaking Latin-American countries, and found that FOMO predicts negative consequences of maladaptive SNS use. In addition, this study also found that the relationship between psychopathology (as operationalized by anxiety and depression symptoms and assessed via the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and negative consequences of SNS use were mediated by FOMO, emphasizing the importance of FOMO in the self-perceived consequences of high SNS engagement.
Research published by Dr. Sarah Buglass and colleagues in a 2016 issue of Computers in Human Behavior using 506 UK Facebook users found that FOMO mediates the relationship between high SNS use and decreased self-esteem. Research with psychotherapists working with clients seeking help for their Internet use-related behaviors also suggested that young clients “fear the sort of relentlessness of on-going messaging (…). But concurrently with that is an absolute terror of exclusion” (quote taken from our 2015 book Internet Addiction in Psychotherapy). Taken together, these findings suggest FOMO may be a significant predictor or possible component of potential SNS addiction, a contention that requires further consideration in future research. Further work is needed into the origins of FOMO (both theoretically and empirically), as well as research into why do some SNS users are prone to FOMO and develop signs of addictions compared to those who do not.
Related to both FOMO is the construct of nomophobia. Nomophobia has been defined by Nicola Luigi Bragazzi and Giovanni Del Puente in a 2014 issue of the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management as “no mobile phone phobia”, i.e., the fear of being without one’s mobile phone. These two scholars have called for nomophobia to be included in the DSM-5. They suggested the following criteria to contribute to this problem constellation: regular and time-consuming use, feelings of anxiety when the phone is not available, “ringxiety” (i.e., repeatedly checking one’s phone for messages, sometimes leading to phantom ring tones), constant availability, preference for mobile communication over face to face communication, and financial problems as a consequence of use. Nomophobia is inherently related to a fear of not being able to engage in social connections, and a preference for online social interaction (which is the key usage motivation for SNSs), and has been linked to problematic Internet use and negative consequence of technology use, further pointing to a strong association between nomophobia and SNS addiction symptoms.
Using mobile phones is understood as leading to alterations in everyday life habits and perceptions of reality, which can be associated with negative outcomes, such as impaired social interactions, social isolation, as well as both somatic and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and stress. Accordingly, nomophobia can lead to using the mobile phone in an impulsive way, and may thus be a contributing factor to SNS addiction as it can facilitate and enhance the repeated use of social networking sites, forming habits that may increase the general vulnerability for the experience of addiction-related symptoms as a consequence of problematic SNS use.
- (Please note: Material for this blog was taken from the following paper: Kuss, D.J. & Griffiths, M.D. (2017). Social networking sites and addiction: Ten lessons learned. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14, 311; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030311)
Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Behavioural Addiction, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Al-Menayes, J. (2016). The Fear of Missing out Scale: Validation of the Arabic version and correlation with social media addiction. International Journal of Applied Psychology, 6(2), 41-46.
Bragazzi, N. L., & Del Puente, G. (2014). A proposal for including nomophobia in the new DSM-V. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 7, 155-160.
Buglass, S. L., Binder, J. F., Betts, L. R., & Underwood, J. D. M. (2017). Motivators of online vulnerability: The impact of social network site use and FOMO. Computers in Human Behavior, 66, 248-255.
Gil, F., Chamarro, A., & Oberst, U. (2016). Addiction to online social networks: A question of “Fear of Missing Out”? Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 4(Suppl. 1), 51.
Griffiths, M.D. (2013) Social networking addiction: Emerging themes and issues. Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, 4: e118. doi: 10.4172/2155-6105.1000e118.
Griffiths, M.D. & Kuss, D.J. (2011). Adolescent social networking: Should parents and teachers be worried? Education and Health, 29, 23-25.
Griffiths, M.D., Kuss, D.J. & Demetrovics, Z. (2014). Social networking addiction: An overview of preliminary findings. In K. Rosenberg & L. Feder (Eds.), Behavioral Addictions: Criteria, Evidence and Treatment (pp.119-141). New York: Elsevier.
Kuss, D.J. & Griffiths, M.D. (2011). Online social networking and addiction: A literature review of empirical research. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 8, 3528-3552.
Kuss, D.J.; Griffiths, M.D. Internet addiction in psychotherapy; Palgrave: London, 2015;
Oberst, U., Wegmann, E., Stodt, B., Brand, M., & Chamarro, A. (2017). Negative consequences from heavy social networking in adolescents: The mediating role of fear of missing out. Journal of Adolescence, 55, 51-60.
Przybylski, A. K., Murayama, K., DeHaan, C. R., & Gladwell, V. (2013). Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1841-1848.
Tags: Facebook addiction, Fear of missing out, FOMO, Internet addiction, Maladaptive social networking, No, No mobile phone phobia, Nomophobia, Problematic internet use, Problematic social networking, Ringxiety, Social networking addiction, Social networking psychology
Posted by drmarkgriffiths
Over the last few years there has been increasing use of the term ‘digital detox’. According to the Oxford Dictionary, digital detox is “a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world”. I have to admit that I often find it hard to switch off from work (mainly because I love my job). Given that my job relies on technology, by implication it also means I find it hard to switch off from technology. Today’s blog is as much for me as anyone reading this and provides some tips on how to cut down on technology use, even if it’s just for the weekend or a holiday. I have compiled these tips from many different online articles as well as some of my own personal strategies.
Digitally detox in increments: For some people, going a few minutes without checking their smartphone or emails is difficult. For many, the urge is reflexive and habitual. If you are one of those people, then ‘baby steps’ are needed. Such individuals need to learn to digitally detox in small increments (i.e., go on a ‘digital diet’). Start by proving to yourself that you can go 15 minutes without technology. Over time, increase the length of time without checking (say) Twitter, Facebook and emails (e.g., 30 minutes, 60 minutes, a couple of hours) until you get into a daily habit of being able to spend a few hours without the need to be online. Another simple trick is to only keep mobile devices partially topped up. This means users have to be sparing when checking their mobile devices.
Set aside daily periods of self-imposed non-screen time: One of the secrets to cutting down technology use to acceptable levels is to keep aside certain times of the day technology-free (meal times and bedtime are a good starting place – in fact, these rooms should be made technology-free). For instance, I rarely look at any emails between 6pm and 8pm as this is reserved for family time (e.g., cooking and eating dinner with the family). Another strategy to try is having a technology-free day at the weekends (e.g., not accessing the internet at all for 24 hours). However, watching television or using an e-reader is fine. Another simple strategy is to have technology-free meal times (at both home and work). Don’t bring your smartphone or tablet to the table.
Only respond to emails and texts at specific times of the day: Only a few individuals are ‘on call’ and have to assume that the message they receive will be an emergency. Looking at emails (say) just three times a day (9am, 1pm, 4pm) will save lots of time in the long run. Turning off email and social media, disabling push notifications, or simply turning the volume setting to silent on electronic devices will also reduce the urge to constantly check mobile devices.
Don’t use your smartphone or tablet as an alarm clock: By using a standard alarm clock to wake you in the morning, you will avoid the temptation to look at emails and texts just as you are about to go to sleep or just wake up (or in the middle of the night if you are a workaholic!).
Engage in out-of-work activities where it is impossible (or frowned upon) to use technology: Nowadays, leisure activities such as going to the pub, having a meal, or going to the cinema, don’t stop people using wireless technology. By engaging in digitally incompatible activities where it is impossible to access technology simultaneously (e.g., jogging, swimming, meditation, outdoor walks in wi-fi free areas) or go to places where technology is frowned upon (e.g., places of worship, yoga classes, etc.) and individual will automatically decrease the amount of screen time. In social situations, you can turn people’s need to check their phones into a game. For instance, in the pub, you could have a game where the first one to check their phone has to buy a round of drinks for everyone else.
Tell your work colleagues and friends you are going on a digital detox: Checking emails and texts can become an almost compulsive behaviour because of what psychologists have termed ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) that refers to the anxiety that an interesting or exciting event may be happening elsewhere online. By telling everyone you know that you will not be online for a few hours, they will be less likely to contact you in the first place and you will be less likely check for online messages in the first place. Alternatively, Put your ‘out-of-office’ notification on for a few hours and do something more productive with your time.
Reduce your contact lists: One way to spend less time online is to reduce the number of friends on social networking sites, stop following blogs (but not mine, of course!), delete unused apps, and unsubscribe from online groups that have few benefits. Also, delete game apps that can be time-consuming (e.g., Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, etc.).
Get a wristwatch: One of the most common reasons for looking at a smartphone or a tablet is to check the time. If checking the time also leads to individuals noticing they have a text, email or tweet, they will end up reading what has been sent. By using an old fashioned wristwatch (as opposed to new smart watches like the Apple Watch), the urge to reply to messages will decrease.
Think about the benefits of not constantly being online: If you are the kind of person that responds to emails, texts and tweets as they come in, you will write longer responses than if you look at them all in a block. The bottom line is that you can save loads of time to spend on other things if you didn’t spend so long constantly reacting to what is going on in the online world.
Enjoy the silence: Too many people fail to appreciate being in the moment and allowing themselves to resist the urge to log onto their laptops, mobiles and tablets. It is at these times that some people might interpret as boredom that we can contemplate and be mindful. This could be made more formal by introducing meditation into a daily routine. There are also many places that run whole weekends and short breaks where technology is forbidden and much of the time can be spent in quiet contemplation.
Fill the void: To undergo digital detox for any length of time, an individual has to replace the activity with something that is as equally rewarding (whether it is physically, psychologically or spiritually). When I’m on holiday, I catch up on all the novels that I’ve been meaning to read. In shorter spaces of time (such as sitting in boring meetings) I doodle, write ‘to do’ lists, generate ideas to write about, or simply do nothing (and be mindful, aware of the present moment). In short, I try to productive (or unproductive) without having to resort to my technology.
Use technology to beat technology: One thing that can shock technology users is how much time they actually spend on their mobile devices. Working out how much time is actually spent online can be the first step in wanting to cut down. (For instance, someone I once worked with was shocked to find he had spent 72 [24-hour] days in one year playing World of Warcraft). Tech users can download apps that tell them how much time spending online, (e.g., Moment). Being made aware of a problem is often the first step in enabling behavioural change.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Goodnet (2013). 7 steps to planning your next digital detox. October 22. Located at: http://www.goodnet.org/articles/7-steps-to-planning-your-next-digital-detox
Hosseini, M.D. (2013). Top 10 tips to unplug this summer with a digital detox. Advertising Week Social Club, June 28. Located at: http://www.theawsc.com/2013/06/28/top-10-tips-to-unplug-this-summer-with-a-digital-detox/
Huffington Post (2013). 10 digital detox vacation hacks to help you truly unplug. July 31. Located at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/31/vacation-hacks-_n_3676474.html
Levy, P. (2015). 15 tips for a total digital detox. Mind Body Green, January 15. Located at: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17030/15-tips-for-a-total-digital-detox.html
Lipman, F. (2015). 12 tips for your next digital detox. March 2. Located at: http://www.drfranklipman.com/shake-it-off-12-tips-for-your-next-digital-detox/
Lipman, F. (2014). 8 ways to disconnect from technology and get more done. November 5. Located at: http://www.drfranklipman.com/8-ways-to-disconnect-from-technology-and-get-more-done/
South China Morning Post (2015). Five tips for a digital detox. Located at: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/technology/article/1673273/five-tips-digital-detox
Vozza, S. (2013). A realistic digital detox in 5 easy steps. Entrepreneur, November 12. Located: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229783
Posted in Addiction, Case Studies, Compulsion, Computer games, Cyberpsychology, Games, I.T., Internet addiction, Mindfulness, Obsession, Online addictions, Online gaming, Psychology, Social Networking, Technological addiction, Technology
Tags: Digital detox, Excessive technology use, Facebook use, Fear of missing out, Filling the void, FOMO, Internet addiction, Mobile phone abuse, Mobile phone addiction, Online addiction, Smartphone dependence, Smartphone excess, Technological addiction, Twitter use, Work addiction, Workaholic, Workaholism