The fear of missing out (FoMO) affects people of all ages, researchers find

FoMO, or the “fear of missing out” is not a term only associated with the youth of this world addicted to social media. The fear of missing out apparently is caused by aspects of self-perception, such as loneliness, low self-esteem, etc. Age is not a closely associated factor when it comes to social anxiety.

A recent study (published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships) conducted by Washington State University researchers revealed that people of all ages feel social anxiety that comes other people are having fun without you.

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“FoMO is not an adolescent or young adult problem, necessarily. It’s really about individual differences, irrespective of age,” says Chris Barry, lead author of the study. “We expected FoMO to be higher in younger age groups, particularly because of the tremendous amount of social development happening at those times, but that’s not what we found.”

Barry and his co-author Megan Wong, a WSU undergraduate student, conducted a survey talking about self-perception, life satisfaction, and social media use and sent it to more than 400 people across the U.S. The age of people who took the survey ranged between 14 and 47.

The results of the survey found that social media use was not a predicting factor in FoMO. Two people with different social media usage are affected differently by FoMO. “We’re not all equally prone to the Fear of Missing Out, but for those who are, social media can exacerbate it,” said Barry. “Social media allows you to witness what other people are doing and what’s going on in their lives. If there’s already concern about missing out, then there will be distress at seeing that on social media.”

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Barry also suggests that people should consider reducing or even cutting out social media for some time if they experience a lot of FoMO. However, research also indicated that FoMO doesn’t affect life satisfaction, implying that it is not strong social anxiety. This, as Barry indicates, is some of the good news that came out of this study.

For people that are facing FoMO, they suggest practicing self-compassion by looking at growth opportunities from past mistakes. They also suggest “being in the moment” and taking steps to reduce loneliness.

“To do something about FoMO, individuals can foster a greater sense of real connectedness to others, which will lessen feelings of isolation. You can also try being more in the moment, concentrating on what is in front of you as opposed to focusing on what else is going on out there,” Barry said.

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Source: Medical Xpress

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