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FOMO is an All-Too-Real Phenomenon Causing Depression in Teenagers

A new report has suggested that the cultural condition of 'FOMO' is a real and measurable factor in the levels of anxiety and depression seen in teenagers. The fifth annual National Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey by Psychology Australia, released this week, has looked at the impacts of social media for the first time.

The fear of missing out is definitely affecting the younger generation. Out of those Aussie teenagers interviewed, 50% said that they felt it when checking social media, and that by not checking it they felt it too. 51% felt that when they were having a good time, they needed to post status updates, and approximately 45% think that their peers have better lives than them.

It is definitely arguable that most social media usage is merely a form of online bragging. I know from personal experience that in the down days where I'm not up to much, my social media presence declines rapidly, whereas when I'm out on the town my Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram become thriving platforms to let the world know what I'm up to. I definitely feel envy on a daily basis as I check my various news feeds and see the seemingly spectacular things my friends are doing, whether it be travelling, partying or even just eating great food. The inescapable and totally palpable feeling of panic when I think others are having more fun than I am, or that I'm being left out of something, is totally ridiculous - I'm no stranger to the fact that social media is nothing more than a hyperbolised simulation of reality. It's nothing that concerns me personally, but scientific data that proves it is affecting young adults definitely does, as it suggests that impressionable teenagers are not able to distinguish the difference between 'real' life and the 'real' as portrayed on social media.

This fear is also obvious in teenagers who believe that if they do not check their social media feeds every 10 or 15 minutes, they may miss out on key news, info or gossip. Understandably, FOMO is far more common amongst heavy than light users of social media.

Australian Psychological Society 

Key points of the study found that:

66 per cent of the teenagers wanted to share details online when they were having a good time
60 per cent said they felt worried when they found out their friends were having fun without them
51 per cent said they felt anxious if they did not know what their friends were doing
78 per cent said it was important that they understood their friends’ “in jokes”

Clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller, a spokesman for the Australian Psychological Society, said the results “shouldn’t deter Australians from using social media, but instead encourage individuals to think about how social media use impacts their wellbeing to ensure the positives outweigh the negatives”.

To view the full report, click here.

SMF rookie, fresh out of academia, looking forward to more creative ventures. With a love of current affairs, green tea and an ever insatiable wanderlust, Katie is ready to have her voice heard. Follow her @KatieAtSMF

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FOMO is an All-Too-Real Phenomenon Causing Depression in Teenagers Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, November 13, 2015 Rating: 5

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