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