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Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as Really Lived: Five Classifications and one Ecology

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Social media provides a platform for information sharing and dissemination and has speedily become a popular method for individuals to relate to others regardless of the time and geographical distance. However, this wealth of connectivity and availability of information may lead to the experience of the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) that typically refers to a preoccupation of the users of social media about lost opportunities when they are offline or unable to connect and communicate as wished. Despite the recognition of the concept, studies around FoMO have used offline data collection techniques such as interviews, focus groups and surveys. This has led to a limited understanding of the lived FoMO experience and a rather simplified and coarse-grained view of the concept. In this paper, we delve into the specifics and nuances of FoMO through multi-stage qualitative research, including interviews, diary study and three focus group sessions and elaborate upon the concept and determine its various manifestations and classification. The lived experience is mainly gathered through a diary study. We present five main classifications characterising FoMO and develop an ecology for it.
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Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) as Really Lived: Five
Classifications and one Ecology
Aarif Alutaybi, John McAlaney, Emily Arden-Close, Angelos Stefanidis, Keith Phalp, Raian Ali
Faculty of Science and Technology
Bournemouth University, UK
{aalutaybi, jmcalaney, eardenclose, astefanidis, kphalp, rali}@bournemouth.ac.uk
Abstract Social media provides a platform for information
sharing and dissemination and has speedily become a popular
method for individuals to relate to others regardless of the time
and geographical distance. However, this wealth of connectivity
and availability of information may lead to the experience of the
Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) that typically refers to a
preoccupation of the users of social media about lost
opportunities when they are offline or unable to connect and
communicate as wished. Despite the recognition of the concept,
studies around FoMO have used offline data collection
techniques such as interviews, focus groups and surveys. This has
led to a limited understanding of the lived FoMO experience and
a rather simplified and coarse-grained view of the concept. In
this paper, we delve into the specifics and nuances of FoMO
through multi-stage qualitative research, including interviews,
diary study and three focus group sessions and elaborate upon
the concept and determine its various manifestations and
classification. The lived experience is mainly gathered through a
diary study. We present five main classifications characterising
FoMO and develop an ecology for it.
Index Terms— Social media, Fear of Missing Out, Digital
Wellbeing, Cyberpsychology
I. I
NTRODUCTION
Social media enables people to write about their daily life,
express opinions, share information and connect with other
people for personal and business requirements. Also, social
media facilitate a great opportunity for different business to
advert their brands and reach out to customers and create
opportunities and communities [1]. However, this wealth of
connectivity may drive people to relate to social media in a
problematic style and experience fear of missing out (FoMO).
FoMO has been defined as a “pervasive apprehension that
others might be having rewarding experiences from which one
is absent and is characterised by the desire to stay continually
connected with what others are doing” [2]. Social media
provides diverse information in real-time about events,
conversations and activities. It allows individuals to be
informed with new developments. This may lead individuals to
experience FoMO by compelling them to check their social
media activities frequently or stay online continuously to avoid
missing out. FoMO explains the desire of people who
experience chronic deficits of satisfaction, to constantly engage
with social media, even when this happens in unsuitable or
dangerous situations such as while driving [2], or attending
lectures [3]. It is important to note that, as with many
psychological processes, the core motivation is not inherently
problematic. Humans are a social species and have evolved to
exist within social groups that reinforce their group identity
through the sharing of social information [4]. Instead, the issue
is when this preoccupation with sharing and receiving social
information grows to the extent that it interferes with normal
daily functioning or causes distress to the individuals.
Lee and Chiou [5] argue that people are becoming
increasingly dependent on social media to gratify their social
needs, in particular, the need to belong. As the usage of social
media increases, face-to-face interactions are decreasing,
which in turn increases reliance on social media to meet the
relatedness and belonging human needs. However, the cost of
this need is FoMO on friends’ interactions. Individuals feel
anxious when they are unable to connect or interact with such
interactions that gratify their needs [6].
Individuals often experience negative emotions such as
anxiety when they are unable to connect to the internet or do
not receive expected interactions, such as likes or comments on
Facebook posts [7]. Fox and Moreland [8] state that FoMO is
the main reason why people use Facebook extensively and feel
the pressure to do so. While the underlying reasons for this
could be diverse, changes in the design of social media could
facilitate control of usage [9] and help people experience less
FoMO and combat it.
Research on FoMO is in its infancy and has mainly been
conducted from a social science perspective, attempting to
identify the relation between FoMO and social media
addiction, or the relation between FoMO, and wellbeing, such
as the work in [10]. More research is needed in software design
practices such as UX, requirements engineering and HCI, in
order to develop intervention systems that specifically target
FoMO. Alutaybi et al. [11] proposed that countermeasures
should be embedded into social media. However, in order to
design such countermeasures, a greater understanding of
FoMO and the situations in which it occurs is needed.
In this paper, we build on the work conducted in[11] to
explore the real-time experience of FoMO through a series of
studies, including interviews, diary study and three focus
group sessions, to develop a conceptual model by which
FoMO can be represented. Our classification of FoMO could
aid future information system design in relation to social media
to combat FoMO, enable people to be more informed about
how FoMO happens, and in turn to identify FoMO in their own
social media usage. Our use of diary studies was vital to get
FoMO experience as lived and get more ecologically valid
data.
II. R
ESEARCH
M
ETHOD
Previous research on FoMO adopted methods of interviews
[2], focus groups [8, 12] and surveys [2, 6, 10, 12-14] and
showed a correlation between social media design,
psychological factors such as depression, and FoMO.
However, these studies were retrospective, meaning they
suffered from recall bias, and have limited ecological validity.
They also have not focused on the role of social media design
and the various kinds of FoMO and treated the concept at a
relatively high level of abstraction.
To address the limitation of previous research, we
conducted a new qualitative study. Table (1) outlines the data
collection methods used in this study.
Table 1:
The data collection methods used in the study
Phase Method
used
Brief Explanation
1 Interview - W ith 16 participants – Familiarizing them with
the issue – Familiarizing them with the FoMO
classification concluded from the analysis of the
1st study - Extract opinions and suggestions - 40
minutes for each interviewee
2 Diary
Study
- With the participants from the 1st phase - Daily
basis for 14 days- - Sending diary template via
email every day -Recording personal stories -
Investigating new categories of FoMO
Reminding by text message and email
3 Two focus
group
sessions
- With 10 participants from 2nd phase
Scenario-based sessions - To discuss their diaries’
entries and elaborate on them
The first phase consisted of an interview with sixteen
participants, aged between 18 and 30 years. As in the first
study, participants were recruited via an open call to a student
forum, where individuals could nominate themselves to
participate. Participants were first given a brief description
regarding FoMO to engage them in the issue. They were also
issued with instructions detailing how to complete FOMO
diaries including a practice diary form, and given the printed
copy of the diary template in order to familiarize themselves
with the proposed classification of FoMO.
The second phase consisted of a diary study with the same
sixteen participants who were interviewed for fourteen days.
Participants received a template via email every day for two
weeks and were asked to fill in the diary as close as possible
to when their FoMO occurred. When doing so, they were
asked to attempt to reflect on the FOMO categories provided
in the template and their classification, based on their personal
experience. Participants were asked to suggest new categories
if they felt no existing category captured their experience.
Also, they were invited to annotate the categories by adding or
rephrasing concepts. Participants were reminded by text
messages and email if they did not send their diary.
In the third phase, two focus groups were asked to
elaborate their personal stories from the second phase (the
diary study). Each group consisted of five members, and was
given five scenarios of FoMO with a set of questions and a
sheet on which to write comments that might be appropriate
for each scenario. The scenarios were built around the findings
of the first study. The data collected were analysed using
thematic analysis, following Braun and Clarke [15]
III. F
INDINGS
:
F
O
MO
FIVE CLASSIFICATIONS
We identified five main classifications of FoMO, with each
consisting of several subcategories.
A. Classification 1: FoMO when others do not interact as
expected
Diverse expectations of social media interactions may
increase the level of FoMO and lead to spending increasing
amounts of time checking and expecting certain interactions
from others on social media such as receiving Likes,
comments or replies. When the actual experience does not
meet expectations of interactions, individuals may seek
answers as to why others did not interact with them, why
interaction is lacking, or why the style of interaction may not
seem sufficiently comprehensive. Hence, they may experience
one or more kinds of the following FoMO.
Fear of missing the ability to be popular
People typically seek a degree of popularity when using
social media. They also attempt to maintain their achieved
popularity among peers on social media by taking into
consideration the norms of the group such as frequent
participation or immediate responses.
However, when an individual experiences this kind of FoMO
they may be preoccupied with various interpretations. One of
these interpretations is that individuals may attribute this
FoMO to “the lack of participation on a certain social media
and thus the tendency to spend more effort in order to restore
or increase their popularity.” Another noticeable interpretation
in this category is around missing prior interactions with
significant others that needed me to reply.
Fear of missing the ability to be interesting
People are motivated in sharing their daily lives with peers
and getting feedback from them in terms of Likes or
comments. Some people may have negative feelings if they
receive no or limited interactions from others. It is expected
that this may result in low self-esteem and feeling unworthy or
uninteresting, due to high dependence on others’ feedback.
There are several explanations for this form of FoMO. First,
people may be preoccupied with whether or not their post is
appealing enough. Second, people may be preoccupied with
“the use of social media rarely may make the profile less active
and less popular among peers.”
Fear of missing the ability to get the right
interpretation
When individuals misinterpret non-interaction from others
as being ignored or unwanted, they may take action that affects
their relationship with others. For example, one participant
commented: “Some of my followers have not put Like on my
posts. I doubtfully interpreted this to the point that they may
have excluded my posts. I fear that misinterpretations affect my
friendship.”
B. Classification 2: FoMO when unable to interact or
connect as wished
Interactions via social media are occasionally limited as
individuals in certain circumstances (such as when they are
busy or have no internet access etc.) may be unable to interact
or connect to social media as they would like, and thus may
experience one or more kinds of the following FoMO because
of their limited ability to postpone their gratification.
Fear of missing information due to large volumes
Information overload is when people receive a lot of
information and interactions from their contacts on social
media and feel frustrated because they want to respond or
interact but cannot do so. This can occur when individuals
desire to see particular posts but do not find it easy to do, due
to a large number of posts, or are unable to look at posts one by
one to pick a particular post. E.g. “I finally got Wi-Fi at a
restaurant so I could get messages from social media.
However, I experienced FoMO because the Wi-Fi signal was
weak, and I had only very limited time. I was looking for posts
on Facebook from my university among a high volume of posts
from others so I feared missing them as I had not enough time
so I could not go through all of them to see it”.
When encountering large volumes of information, people
may worry about how they can reach necessary or useful
information and thus fear missing it. One student said that
Today was a due date for an assignment so my friends used a
group chat on Facebook to ask each others. There were a lot of
questions and many people commented on the chat so it was
difficult to keep up with the volume of information. I feared I
might miss useful information as I did not have time to read all
the comments.”
Fear of missing the ability to deal with different
social media
Some individuals use more than one form of social media.
This may lead them to experience FoMO when they receive
multiple interactions from various social media at the same
time, and are therefore unable to interact with them all at once
or in a short pace of time. Individuals may be preoccupied with
deciding about the messages that are most important for them.
E.g. My mum and sister kept sending me a lot of messages
and photos today on WhatsApp of the snow back home and
[there was also] a group chat of my friends about the weather
and being unable to travel on Facebook. I have been trying to
do some university work today and have been unable to
properly check each app and find important messages
regarding the weather. So I fear that I will miss important
information that my friends and family knew it”.
Additionally, people may be thinking of whom to first
respond to when they receive multiple messages from different
friends and different social media. They are concerned that the
first response to a certain friend may determine the level of the
relationship. Hence, this may affect their relationship with
other friends when they know that a certain friend has received
a response while they have not. E.g. “In such a hurry to reply
back so when I am unable to interact or connect as I wish, I
cannot decide whom to text back first so I really fear missing to
deal with those messages that came from Facebook and
WhatsApp as I do not want to respond to someone and thus
others feel I respect him/her more than them”.
Fear of missing temporally available information
Temporarily available information is information that has a
specific time and then expires or is removed such as stories on
Snapchat or status on WhatsApp. Some individuals may be
eager not to miss this type of information. However, when they
are prevented from connecting to this kind of information, they
may be preoccupied with missing a source of influence such as
celebrities or shop advertisements. Alternatively, such content
may be removed by the person themselves or expires.
Furthermore, frustration around the speed and frequency of
checking and the temporal availability of information may be
attributed to this kind of FoMO. This means that the speed of
connectivity or ability to interact does not match the temporal
information. E.g. “I have a bad internet connection which
means I could not see stories on Snapchat and Instagram. I
fear to miss them as stories take ages to be downloaded”.
Another noticeable aspect is the frustration of limited
connectivity versus temporally available information which
means that the availability of resources like data usage and
network speed or even allowed browsing content are
insufficient to access to this kind of information. People want
are nudged to economise on their online usage, but fear
missing temporally available information.
Fear of missing timely interactions
Timely interaction means interactions that individuals need
to take action without delay. This is the case when there are
some messages that need to be replied to without delay such as
confirming a social invitation.
Moreover, individuals may attribute fear of missing timely
interaction to “not give negative impressions as other parties
are accustomed to immediate responses from them.” Another
noticeable aspect of this kind of FoMO is around missing
people who are rarely available on social media, particularly
when individuals want to respond instantly to people who are
rarely available online.
Fear of missing participation in popular
interactions
When individuals expect or know there are interesting
interactions on social media that they are eager to participate in
but are prevented by certain circumstances from doing so, they
may experience FoMO and feel a limited ability to postpone
their gratification. For example, individuals may attribute this
FoMO to “not missing involvement in the current online
discussion within it’s the timeframe.” Hence, people may think
that they also miss supporting others or their opinions or
defending their favourite team. Additionally, an inability to
talk regarding missing online interactions at the time of a social
gathering may be attributed to this kind of FoMO.
Fear of missing the ability to keep followers
Keeping and increasing the number of followers on social
media may be a goal for some individuals. However, if those
people cannot be on a certain social media frequently or
occasionally, they may become preoccupied with “the need to
increase participation on social media or to update their
profile frequently in order to keep their followers interested
and not lose them.”
Fear of missing information/events due to the
multi following
People on social media typically follow others or befriend
them in order to gratify their social needs such as relatedness
and belonging. However, a high number of contacts and active
followings can make people experience this kind of FoMO
when they find huge numbers of posts and they cannot check
all of them. Hence, they may be “preoccupied with missing
posts from a certain account.”
C. Classification 3: FoMO when unwilling to engage in
social interaction
Interactions through social media vary in degree of
interest, depending on people’s opinions or interests.
Individuals may be unwilling to engage in social interaction,
particularly in group chat, because they think the interaction
may not be useful but they “feel compelled to do so.” In this
situation, individuals may experience of the following FoMO.
Fear of missing valuable information
When an individual experiences this kind of FoMO, they
may be preoccupied with “ad hoc requests that need them to
respond immediately” and they are unwilling to open the
messages but still fear of missing something potentially
important. Another noticeable aspect is about missing the
benefits of the group such as arrangements for a meeting.
Fear of missing the ability to defend popularity
One of the gratifications for people interested in using
social media is around an increased level of popularity.
Therefore, people attempt to maintain the level of their
popularity and connectedness to an acceptable level. However,
if an individual experiences this kind of FoMO, i.e. the
unwillingness to engage and respond, they may be preoccupied
with various interpretations. One of these interpretations is that
individuals may attribute this FoMO to “misunderstanding that
peers think that they are ignored and thus may affect the level
of my popularity among them.
Furthermore, another interpretation is that individuals may
be preoccupied with missing the social relationship and
reputation with peers when they do not frequently engage with
them on social media, e.g., “I often find myself replying to
things I don’t need to, but I do it in order to maintain a
relationship with people and benefit me in the future.”
Additionally, fear of being excluded from future
interactions could be related to the various interpretations that
people may be preoccupied with it when they receive
interactions but are unwilling to engage in them. Prompt
response and empathy are measures to maintain popularity,
e.g., “I always find myself engaging in conversation that does
not necessarily interest to me just to remain my level of
popularity; else I feel I will not be involved in future
conversations.”
D. Classification 4: FoMO when having to or feeling a
need to engage in continuous and untimed interaction
Interactions through social media occasionally encourage
individuals to stay online and these interactions may not be
bound by time which means they can occur at any time and last
for an unknown period. Hence, people tend to be online
because they may experience one or more kinds of the
following FoMO.
Fear of missing empathy and leaving a good
impression
On social media, individuals are willing to maintain their
image and social stand amongst others such as friends or
colleagues. This becomes a pressure on them when they want
to leave the spontaneous and untimed conversation. However,
individuals are keeping the chat active because they are
preoccupied with different interpretations. One of these
interpretations is that individuals may attribute this kind of
FoMO to “making people think they are not interested in the
interactions with them.” Another noticeable aspect is about
missing empathy with peers. Negative effect on others’ self-
image could be another aspect that individuals are preoccupied
with. Furthermore, people want to maintain their social
relationships. Hence, this kind of FoMO, relates to
preoccupation with “missing their level of social relationship”.
Fear of missing the opportunity to know others’
impressions
Because online interactions are not bound by time, people
tend to stay online in order not to miss the opportunity to know
others’ impressions. Hence, they may attribute this FoMO to
“the need to appreciate people who comment on the posts,
otherwise they may think you are impolite with them.” Another
noticeable aspect is the need to remove their post if it receives
negative comments, before the number of such comments
increases.
Fear of losing popularity
In this classification, this is when people have to or feel a
need to engage in continuous untimed interactions because
popularity is one of the gratifications that people may attempt
to maintain it on social media. However, a fear of missing
popularity may make people preoccupied with the need to
reply immediately, e.g., “I kept checking the responses and
updates so that I could comment and respond to each one as I
feared that if I did not reply or react immediately I would miss
the level of my self-image among my followers”.
Additionally,
people may be preoccupied with “misunderstanding that peers
think they are ignored and they may do the same in the future.”
Fear of missing a valuable opportunity
One of the services provided by social media is valuable
opportunities that people can benefit from such as discounts,
career opportunities and advice. People may stay online if they
are preoccupied with missing such opportunities.
Fear of missing the sense of relatedness
Belonging is one of the gratifications that people interested
in using social media typically seek. Therefore, people attempt
to maintain the level of their belonging and connectedness to
an acceptable level. However, if an individual experiences this
kind of FoMO, they may attribute their preoccupation and
compulsive checking to “not miss what is going on in others’
lives.”
Fear of missing a spontaneous response
Sending message is one of the services provided by social
media. Sending a message to someone for some purpose and
waiting for a spontaneous response from the recipient can
make people preoccupied: more information may be needed
immediately from the contact when they replay the first
messages.”
E. Classification 5: FoMO when an online social
gathering is expected
Social gatherings mean that interactions among a diversity
of individuals of all abilities in small or large groups for social
and community purposes. This can occur through social media
such as a WhatsApp group, Facebook group, etc. However, if
individuals expect a certain interaction on social media, they
may experience one or more of the kinds of the following
FoMO.
Fear of missing the opportunity to attend an online
event
online gathering can be motivated by an event, such football
matches, which are live streamed on social media where people
can create a chat room or a forum to comment. Consequently,
individuals like to watch these events on social media and try
not to miss them due to the socialness value they add. Hence,
when people experience this kind of FoMO, they expect the
event may make them preoccupied with missing the live chat
presented in various social media.
Fear of missing the sense of relatedness
Individuals participate in the online group or prefer to be
online in order to satisfy their need to belong. However, when
individuals cannot interact on an online group as expected they
may experience this kind of FoMO. Hence, they may become
preoccupied with untimed and spontaneous interactions, e.g.,
“I have a group chat on WhatsApp and every night members
start to talk about their day. I like to be there in order to feel
the sense of belonging but if I do not check I am thinking that
my name may be mentioned by members”).
Fear of missing the ability to be popular
Individuals attempt to maintain their popularity among
peers on social media by taking into consideration group norms
such as frequent participation or immediate responses. When
people could not interact on online group as expected they may
become preoccupied with “missing social rank among peers or
family”
IV. F
O
MO:
E
COLOGY
In this section, we abstract the findings presenting in the
previous section and create ecology to describe FoMO. Figure
1 summarises it. FoMO is the interplay of different factors that
create a situation in which people become more susceptible to
that apprehension about their online persona. Each kind of
FoMO could exist in different classifications, e.g. the fear of
missing the ability to be popular exists in Classifications 1 and
5. Additionally, some triggers and worries in FoMO seem to
also be part of different classifications. For example, ad hoc
requests can trigger fear of missing valuable information and
fear of missing a sense of relatedness. This section is meant to
give an upper ecology of the phenomenon in terms of its core
ingredients and their role in FoMO experience. It is also meant
to act as a reference model when discussing FoMO and
designing solutions to combat it.
One factor in FoMO experience is the innate desire and
urge for people to attempt and gain or explore a valuable
opportunity online and, also, defend their current stand and
position. This may be affected if they are not connected as
needed, thought to be needed, or as desired. Another factor
relates to the social pressure which leads individuals to
behave in a way that conforms to the norms of their social
cycle, e.g. their commitment to interact on a certain social
media is considered to be sufficient to conform to the group
norms in terms of responding on time and providing support to
others. In line with such a need to belong comes the pressure
that some may feel to maintain a certain level of popularity on
social media and maintaining it over time.
Furthermore, personal factors and aspirations seemed to be
one of those key factors that can affect the existence and
degree of FoMO. This includes the perceived need for social
recognition in which individuals seek to be important for their
social group in a certain social media, e.g. leaders, helpful or
influencers. This need comes often together with high demand
or preoccupation about impression management in which
individuals strive to cultivate a certain social identity; or in
other words, the way in which they wish to be seen by their
social group [16]. Social media greatly enhances the ability of
individuals to engage in impression management, through for
example enabling them to carefully select which images they
want to share or giving them time to consider a response that
might particularly sound witty. In addition, normative social
influence can be noticed in Classifications 3, 4, and 5 in
which people retain a sense of belonging to the online group,
and are preoccupied about their communication online which
aim to maintain the desired level of perceived popularity and
connectedness [17].
FoMO results in individuals constantly checking their
social media account or worrying about them in order to be
highly in control of their online presence and profile and the
mental model others form about them. When escalated to a
higher degree, this worry can translate to compulsive
behaviour, as can be seen clearly in Classification 4. Even
when the worry and salience about the online space are low,
such a worry can lead to habitual or impulsive behaviours, i.e.
checking social media without thinking of the rationale and
need for it, e.g., using an opportunistic approach, and being
receptive to what may come from there. Almost all our
participants faced a situation where they did not have clear
reasons for checking their social media accounts, despite the
fear they would feel when they were unable to connect as
wished or get others to interact with them as expected.
FoMO
Interactions Constraints
Technical Issues
Misinterpretations
Temporal Availability
Social Availability
Seeking for Opportunity
To Explore
To Gain
To Defend
Social Pressure
Commitment
Seeking for popularity
Normative Social Influence
Personal Factors
The need for social importance
Impression Management
Compulsive Behaviour
Impulsive Behaviour
Fig. 1 FoMO Ecology
The way online interaction constraints are designed and
managed in social media can be another factor in triggering
and feeding FoMO. Participants were highly concerned that
control over conversation online is different from those in
person, e.g. when the other party’s response is not received or
known. Misinterpretation of social interaction can trigger
FoMO in which people are unable to interpret the lack of
responses, including the Likes and comments, from others.
They fear of missing the ability to get the right interpretation
and may increase their online presence to get it, e.g. posting
through another account and trying to track the contact’s
recent responses. Another form of interaction constraints
which may trigger FoMO is the temporal availability of some
interactions and content, e.g. a post only available for 1 hour
and the time-sensitive and personalized feed news. This
exploits the scarcity principle of influence [18]. The technical
issues can also trigger FoMO through affecting the ability to
interact in terms of connectivity, speed and volume. This is
exacerbated when people are in doubt of the ability of others
to be connected, creating again certain undesired behaviours
such as cyberstalking and spying to work out reasons for lack
of communication and whether it is social or technical, i.e.
people are unable or unwilling to communicate for personal
reasons or technical connectivity constraints.
V. CONCLUSION
AND
FUTURE
WORK
In this paper, we studied the experience of FoMO in
relation to social media in depth and as lived. We explored
five classifications detailing how people face FoMO about
social media. We elaborated on each classification in terms of
sub-categories and worries. Our classifications can be used as
a base that aids the future social media designs to better
understand FoMO and provide solutions to enable individuals
to combat it. Additionally, we have discussed a number of
factors affecting FoMO and created ecology for the concept to
facilitate discussions around it. In our future work, we plan to
test the effectiveness of such proposed countermeasures and
investigate different modalities and processes of designing and
applying countermeasures. Also, Disseminating knowledge
about FoMO and coping strategies for the public audience is,
i.e. aiding people’s digital resilience in order to combat
FoMO.
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... One such negative experience is the fear of missing out (FoMO). This typically refers to the preoccupation of users of social media with lost opportunities when they are offline or unable or unwilling to connect and communicate with others to the extent they wish [2]. Researchers have recently begun to explore the negative consequences of FoMO that are faced by social media users. ...
... This introduces limitations due to the possibility of recall bias and questions about ecological validity. To mitigate such shortcomings, Alutaybi, et al. [2] explored the lived experience of individuals who suffered FoMO and sought to understand the phenomena in a naturalistic setting. They utilised a diary study design as a data collection method in the exploration phase. ...
... They utilised a diary study design as a data collection method in the exploration phase. These studies developed five primary contexts of use in which FoMO occurs and the specific fears in each context [2]. The same authors explored features of social media that could facilitate FoMO and, in addition, the existing and future social media features that alleviate FoMO [18,19]. ...
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Background: The fear of missing out (FoMO) on social media refers to the apprehension that online content and interactions from others are unseen and reacted to in a timely fashion. FoMO can become problematic, leading to anxiety, interrupted sleep, lack of concentration and dependence on social media to generate gratification. The literature has mainly focused on understanding the FoMO experience, factors contributing to it and its consequences. Method: In this paper, we build on previous research and develop a FoMO Reduction (FoMO-R) approach that embraces technical elements such as autoreply, filtering, status, education on how FoMO occurs and skills on how to deal with it; e.g., self-talk and checklists. We evaluate the method through focus groups and a diary study involving 30 participants who self-declared to experience FoMO regularly. Results: The results show that the method was accepted by the participants and helped them to manage their FoMO. They also show that a set of extra functionalities in social media design is needed so that users can manage FoMO more effectively. Conclusion: FoMO can be reduced through socio-technical approaches, joining both social and technical skills, and literacy on how social media are designed and how social interactions should happen on them.
... This would mean the ability to personalise SNS to avoid triggers, for example, the emergence type of procrastination for users with some personality traits, through reducing notifications or providing users with advanced ways to filter and customise them. According to Alutaybi et al. (2019aAlutaybi et al. ( , 2019b and also Alblwi et al. (2020), the simple ways offered by commercial social networks and digital wellbeing tools of muting notification all together or encouraging a time off can create anxiety, fear of missing out and passive procrastination. In our future work, we will focus on the design methods of countermeasures in a user-centred style catering to the actual user experience with such countermeasures in a real-world context. ...
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Procrastination refers to the voluntary delay of urgent tasks and can have several negative consequences such as stress, health issues and academic under-achievement. Several factors including personality, culture and gender have been identified as predictors of procrastination, although there are some conflicting findings within the literature. Social networking sites have been identified as a possible facilitator of procrastination, in part due to their design features that encourage immersion and continual interaction. However, social networking sites also provide the opportunity for intelligent, real-time prevention and intervention strategies to be delivered that can reduce the experience of procrastination. In this paper, we build upon our research in which we used a mixed-method approach to explore the types, triggers and acceptance of countermeasures for procrastination on social media. Following a survey of 288 participants from the UK ( n = 165) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ( n = 123), we conducted a series of multiple regression and binary logistic regression models to determine predictors of these factors. Several predictors such as self-control and conscientiousness were found to be significant predictors, but overall, the amount of variance explained by the regression models was relatively low. The results demonstrate that participants are receptive to countermeasures for procrastination being delivered through social networking sites but suggest that the predictors of procrastination related phenomena experienced in social networking sites are different than in offline settings.
... Behaviours based on the use of a digital device can be tracked and shared with researchers in an objective and quantified way that is rarely possible in, for example, alcohol use. Digital devices can also empower individuals and research study participants to easily provide information about their experiences of DA, such as what triggers feelings of Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) (Alutaybi et al., 2019). Utilising this type of data may help researchers reach a better understanding of what DA is and how it should be conceptualised, and in turn, how it should be defined and potentially diagnosed. ...
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Within recent years there has been increasing societal concern around the compulsive and excessive use of digital and Internet-enabled devices, such as the use of social media or online video gaming, and associated psychological and physical harms. However, problematic use or addictive behaviours are not yet included as diagnosable mental health issues in any major diagnostic system in Western countries and the conceptualisations of the phenomena are still inconsistent. To address this issue, the present study reviewed the current conceptualisations of digital addiction used within the research literature and identified common features of the definition of digital addiction. Definitions of the phenomenon were extracted from 47 studies, and they were analysed using a content analysis approach. The initial process assessed definitions for features of digital addiction within Internet, gaming and smartphone addiction. Two higher-order themes were identified, which focused on the harm caused by the phenomenon and on the user's behaviours associated with the phenomenon. It was also found that the key constructs are not specific to the usage domain, i.e. whether it is related to gaming, Internet or smartphone use. Several core features were found across different conceptualisations of digital addiction within the literature; however, it was also noted that some features are subjective and inconsistently applied. If a decision is to be reached on whether the phenomena is a mental health disorder, then clearer definitions must be reached.
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The use of digital technology for educational and recreational purposes among adolescents has drastically increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the prolonged isolation and excessive screen time of the social media platforms might lead to mental health issues, particularly the fear of missing out (FOMO). Thus, this study is aimed at exploring the adolescent's screen time and its contribution to FOMO. This study employed a qualitative method using semi-structured interviews with 30 selected adolescents. The data were collected during the third peak of the pandemic period in Malaysia, between the 11th of April 2021 and the 1st of July 2021. The results revealed that there were four issues related to the FOMO: loneliness, life satisfaction, self-disclosures, and social comparison. In short, self-regulation and awareness on the effects of long screen time need to be instilled among the adolescents during the pandemic. Also, it is pivotal to address the psychological needs, such as healthy social interactions in ensuring the adolescents are not inclined toward FOMO.
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The aim of the study is to examine the relationship between teacher candidates' fear of missing out and their behavior on social networking sites. The study was designed with general and relational screening method, one of the quantitative research methods. The study group consists of 218 teacher candidates studying at the School of Education in Trakya University during the spring term of 2020-2021. Mann-Whitney U and Spearman Rank-Order correlational tests were used in the analysis of the data, alongside descriptive statistics. Findings indicate that the overall FoMO levels of the teacher candidates were below average. No difference was found in terms of FoMO according to gender. Finally, a low-level positive and significant relationship was found between the variable of FoMO and monthly frequency of user actions such as photo sharing and story posting. However, no significant relationship was found between FoMO levels and frequency of live broadcasts or status updates. In the light of the findings, it can be said at least in the specific context of teacher candidates that FoMO is related to particular types of behavior on social networking sites.
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During the modern age, social media has assumed an ever-increasing importance. The aftermath of the COVID crisis has left us almost completely isolated, relying solely on social media to stay in touch with one another. As a result, social networking sites throughout the world have been more heavily used. The benefit of social networking to humans is obvious, but overuse can have unintended consequences to physical and mental wellbeing. Social media addiction is an addictive behaviour characterized by compulsive attachment to social networking sites. The aim of the current research was to explore the relationship of social media addiction with other variables (self-esteem and fear of missing out). The sample consisted of 100 university students, aged between 18-23, who were active on at least one social media site. Through an online survey platform, standard psychometric tests were used to collect the data. A number of statistical analyses, including T-tests and correlation coefficients were performed on the data, to identify relationships and test their statistical significance. The result highlighted a significant positive relationship between FOMO and social media addiction and a significant negative relationship between self esteem and social media addiction. There were clear gender differences across all variables.
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Fear of missing out, (hereafter referred to as FoMO), is increasingly becoming an issue of concern in relation to the use of Social Network Sites (SNSs). Despite its importance, the effects of FoMO continue to receive limited attention, while guidance on how SNSs design is responsible for developing should and, also, combatting it, remains inadequate. In this position paper, we argue that dual responsibility of SNSs design. We report on initial results of a multiphase empirical study which was undertaken to examine the features of social networks that may contribute to triggering FoMO, and to explore how future SNSs can be designed to aid people manage their FoMO. The study involved three focus group sessions and a diary study. We argue that future SNSs shall support interaction styles and protocols and their agreement and adherence processes to enable people prevent and combat FoMO and present styles for doing that. Fear of missing out, Social Networks Design, FoMO Countermeasures, Social interaction protocols
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This survey study among adolescents (N = 402) investigates an integrative model that examines (1) the mediating role of adolescents’ fear of missing out (FoMO) in the relationships of adolescents’ need to belong and need for popularity with adolescents’ Facebook use and (2) the relationships of adolescents’ FoMO with adolescents’ perceived stress related to the use of Facebook. Structural equation modeling results indicated that an increased need to belong and an increased need for popularity were associated with an increased use of Facebook. These relationships were mediated by FoMO. Increased FoMO was associated with increased stress related to Facebook use. These results emphasize the important role that FoMO plays in adolescents’ media use and well-being.
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[Context & motivation] Digital Addiction, e.g. to social networks sites and games, is becoming a public interest issue which has a variety of socio-economic effects. Recent studies have shown correlation between Digital Addiction and certain negative consequences such as depression, reduced creativity and productivity, lack of sleep and disconnection from reality. Other research showed that Digital Addiction has withdrawal symptoms similar to those found in drug, tobacco, and alcohol addiction. [Question/problem] While industries like tobacco and alcohol are required by certain laws to have a label to raise awareness of the potential consequences of the use, we still do not have the same for addictive software. [Principal ideas/results] In this study, we advocate the need for Digital Addiction labels as an emerging ethical and professional requirement. We investigate the design of such labels from a user’s perspective through an empirical study, following a mixed-methods approach, and report on the results. [Contribution] Our ultimate goal is to introduce the need for labelling to both researchers and developers and provide a checklist of questions to consider when handling this non-functional requirement.
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The present study aimed to investigate: a) the contribution of the fear of missing out (FoMO) in explaining social media problematic use taking also into account the fear of being negatively evaluated and the perception of low self-presentational skills; b) the mediating role of positive metacognitions about social media use in the relationship between FoMO and social media problematic use. A sample of 579 undergraduates was recruited (54.6% F; mean age = 22.39 ± 2.82). Among females, the assessed structural model produced good fit to the data [χ2 = 101.11, df = 52, p < .001; RMSEA = 0.05 (90% C.I. =0.04-0.07), CFI = 0.98, SRMR = 0.05]. FoMO and self-presentational skills were both directly and indirectly associated with social media problematic use through the mediation of positive metacognitions. Fear of negative evaluation was not associated with social media problematic use. Among males, FoMO had both a direct and an indirect effect on social media problematic use mediated by positive metacognitions. The fear of negative evaluation and self-presentational skills were only indirectly associated with social media problematic use through positive metacognitions. The assessed structural model produced good fit to the data [χ2 = 98.02, df = 55, p < .001; RMSEA = 0.05 (90% C.I. =0.04-0.07), CFI = 0.98, SRMR = 0.07]. The present study confirmed the role of FoMO with respect to social media problematic use and highlighted for the first time the mediating role of positive metacognitions in this relationship.
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Twitter provides a platform for information sharing and diffusion, and has quickly emerged as a mechanism for organizations to engage with their consumers. A driving factor for engagement is providing relevant and timely content to users. We posit that the engagement via tweets offers a good potential to discover user interests and leverage that information to target specific content of interest. To that end, we have developed a framework that analyzes tweets to identify the interests of current followers and leverages topic models to deliver a personalized topic profile for each user. We validated our framework by partnering up with a local media company and analyzing the content gap between them and their followers. We also developed a mobile application that incorporates the proposed framework.
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Continued and frequent use of social network sites (SNS) has been linked to a fear of missing out (FOMO) and online self-promotion in the form of friending and information disclosure. The present paper reports findings from 506 UK based Facebook users (53% male) who responded to an extensive online survey about their SNS behaviours and online vulnerability. Structural equation modelling (SEM) suggests that FOMO mediates the relationship between increased SNS use and decreased self-esteem. Self-promoting SNS behaviours provide more complex mediated associations. Longitudinal support (N ¼ 175) is provided for the notion that decreased self-esteem might motivate a potentially detrimental cycle of FOMOinspired online SNS use. The research considers the implications of social networking on an individual's online vulnerability.
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For many, viewing social media causes them to relate their own lives to what they are seeing or reading, resulting in feelings that they are somehow missing out. It is suggested that the fear of missing out influences decision making and behavior. The current research explores the measurement of FOMO, focusing on scale development and validation. Using extant scales for inadequacy, irritability, anxiety, and self- esteem, a list of items (n=37), postulated to measure FOMO, was created. In addition to the scale items, questions to assess behavioral and demographic characteristic were included. A pre-test of the survey instrument was conducted (n=30). The final survey was administered electronically, resulting in a useable sample of n=202. Principal components analysis resulted in a 10 item, 3-factor solution explaining 71% of the overall variance. The three factors performed reasonably well all with Cronbach’s alpha above or near Nunnally’s suggested .70 (Nunnally, 1978). Using the newly created scale, FOMO scores were calculated for each respondent. Results suggest significant differences in social media consumption across levels of FOMO. Results also suggest significant differences in the use of particular social media based on ones level of FOMO. Limitations include the sample and it is suggested that future research, including confirmatory factor analysis, should be conducted.
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Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is a social construct that examines whether students are concerned that they are missing out on experiences that others are having, and we examined this relation to their concerns over missing activities in their home culture. This mixed-methods pilot study sought to determine how social media affects the study abroad experience, and in particular, whether students studying abroad experience FoMO. Based on survey results and focus-group data collected from study abroad students, participants used social media primarily for purposeful communication among themselves, in addition to connecting back home. Although the construct of FoMO was present in the study, it took on a different role where participants tried to create FoMO in others as opposed to experiencing it themselves. This study provides valuable information for faculty and staff members interested in harnessing social media to enhance and expand study abroad programs, as well as adding value to the current research on FoMO and its implication on study abroad experiences for undergraduates.
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The concerns about the consequences of mental problems related to use of social media among university students have recently raised consciousness about a relatively new phenomenon termed Fear of Missing Out (FoMO). Drawing on the self-determination theory and on the assumption that low levels of basic need satisfaction may relate to FoMO and social media engagement, the aim of the present research was to examine for the first time possible links between FoMO, social media engagement, and three motivational constructs: Intrinsic, extrinsic and amotivation for learning. Data were gathered from 296 undergraduate students by using the following scales: Social Media Engagement (SME), Fear of Missing Out (FoMOs) and Academic Motivation. The SME is a new scale, specifically designed for this study to measure the extent to which students used social media in the classroom. This scale includes three categories: Social engagement, news information engagement and commercial information engagement. Path analysis results indicated that the positive links between social media engagement and two motivational factors: Extrinsic and amotivation for learning are more likely to be mediated by FoMO. Interpretation of these results, their congruence within the context of the theoretical frameworks and practical implications are discussed.