#FOMO Leads To Depression And Anxiety In Teen Social Media Users

A report revealed that most teenagers today suffer from the fear of missing out or FOMO which is generated when they use social media.

Experts from the Australian Psychological Society found FOMO elevates anxiety levels of teenagers and may contribute to depression.

The findings, released [pdf] 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 well-being.

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.

Missing out on something important

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 or about 15 percent admit that they use social media 15 minutes before bed every night.

Four in ten or 37 percent of the teen respondents use social media in the presence of others, and one in four teens or 24 percent said they connect to social media while eating breakfast and lunch every day.

FOMO is more common in heavy users of social media, the report said. One in two Aussie teenagers or 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.

Teenagers also feel like they are having less rewarding experiences than their friends. 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.

Intensified anxiety

"There is a very strong positive correlation between the hours spent on digital technology and higher stress and depression," said Rahamathulla.

Rahamathulla added that teens today are somehow getting confused between the online world and the real world.

Jessica Sahay, a 17-year-old student who admitted that she spends hours browsing through Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook before going to bed, said that she is now trying to reduce the time she spends on social media because she had felt worn out from being constantly connected.

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.

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