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Social Media, FOMO and Teenage Anxiety

Social Media, FOMO and Teenage Anxiety


A recent study is suggesting something that we all have known for years (on one level or another): social media is killing us.

Okay, not killing us, but it’s making us miserable. Really, really miserable. This is especially true of people who are teenagers and also happen to use social media extensively.

Dr. Heather Cleland Woods, Holly Scott and their research team from the University of Glasgow announced their finding in The British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Manchester, UK. What they found seems fairly obvious to anyone who knows teenagers (or adults) who use social media throughout the day: social media leads to poor sleeping habits, higher rates of anxiety and a series of other psychological maladies.

Social media users’ anxiety seems to stem from the pressure people feel to be available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. The big take away? FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is totally a real thing. And it’s causing serious medical conditions.


Social media’s nature of immediacy makes users feel that they must reflect that immediacy. If those of us who are emotionally invested in the digital lives we lead on social media unplug from our outlet to the world, we start to worry that we’re going to miss out on something important, that we’re going to be left out of the loop.

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At the conference, Wood explains that this research, though not by any means conclusive, suggests that we need to seriously think about the time we’re spending on social media:

While overall social media use impacts our sleep quality, those who log on at night appear to be particularly affected. This may be mostly true of individuals who are highly emotionally invested. This means we have to think about how our kids use social media, in relation to time for switching off.”

Have you ever noticed feelings of FOMO in yourself or someone you love? What are some of the ways that you’ve successfully unplugged from social media? Let us know in the comments below.

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