FOMO and Its Fallout: How Social Medias Impact Your Mental Health

FOMO and Its Fallout: How Social Medias Impact Your Mental Health

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Social Media's Impact on Mental Health

In today’s digitized era, social media has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of our daily existence. It not only facilitates connections with loved ones, sharing of memories, and global interaction but is also a commonplace fixture for students maturing in this digital age.

Many students devote considerable time daily to navigating their social media feeds. While this platform offers numerous advantages, it also corresponds with a rising concern regarding mental health issues, especially among the youth. FOMO, or the “Fear Of Missing Out,” and its repercussions play a significant role in this alarming trend. While the concept of FOMO is not new and has existed as long as human comparison has, the proliferation of social media has exacerbated its impact.

What is FOMO?

FOMO refers to the anxiety stemming from the perception of potentially missing out on exciting or significant events. It’s a sentiment especially prevalent among students who feel they aren’t on par with their peers regarding academic accomplishments, social engagements, or personal development. The omnipresence of social media has augmented FOMO’s reach, positioning it as a primary factor behind mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and burnout among students.

Related Terms

In the wake of FOMO, several analogous terms have emerged:

  • FOBO (Fear of Better Options): Apprehension about overlooking superior alternatives.
  • MOMO (Mystery of Missing Out): Anxiety about missing out, without clarity on what’s being missed.
  • ROMO (Reality of Missing Out): Acknowledgement of not missing out on anything significant.
  • FOJI (Fear of Joining In): Reluctance to share on social media due to fear of inadequate engagement.
  • JOMO (Joy of Missing Out): A counterpoint to FOMO, it symbolizes contentment in disengaging or staying disconnected from social media.

What Research Indicates

With the ubiquity of social media platforms, the susceptibility of students to FOMO and its subsequent effects has heightened.

  • According to a study jointly conducted by Aligarh Muslim University and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) titled “Smartphone Dependency, Hedonism and Purchase Behaviour: Implications for Digital India Initiatives,” it was found that college students in India, driven by anxiety and FOMO, checked their smartphones over 150 times daily.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has pointed out that while social media has its merits, research indicates youths spending in excess of three hours daily on such platforms are at twice the risk of confronting adverse mental health outcomes.

Also Read: Why are the young people NOT OKAY?

General notion among students

There is a prevalent belief among students regarding the benefits of social media. Some of these perceived advantages include:

  • A sense of greater acceptance and belongingness through social media interactions.
  • Opportunities to provide support and assistance to peers.
  • A platform to exhibit and share their creative skills and talents.
  • Enhanced connectivity with their friends and awareness of their activities. Consequently, an over-reliance on these platforms often leads to the phenomenon known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Irony of FOMO

The underlying issue with FOMO is its often elusive nature. Many students might not associate their underlying anxiety with the fear of being excluded from peer activities. This nebulous feeling of discomfort and restlessness may be misdiagnosed, thereby making it challenging to address the root cause.

Moreover, the design of social media platforms, with their notifications, likes, and other engagement-driven features, propels students to remain continuously active and invested. The embedded pressure to stay updated, coupled with the fear of missing out on something pivotal or exhilarating, can foster an obsessive pattern, further spiraling into mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and burnout.

FOMO: Symptoms and behavioural patterns

Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, with their incessant influx of content, foster an environment conducive for students to contrast their lives with their peers’. Such patterns are clear indicators of FOMO, drawing students away from real-life engagements.

The subsequent behaviours and signs might be evident:

  • Students may become trapped in a detrimental cycle of perpetual comparison, self-evaluation, and the pressure to curate a pristine online persona, often divergent from their authentic self.
  • A relentless urge to monitor their social feeds to avoid missing out on any significant updates can develop.
  • If this dependency intensifies, students might forgo recreational activities such as watching television, engaging in sports, attending classes, or even outings like shopping or dining, in favor of being online.
  • A growing inclination towards social media or online games becomes apparent.
  • Escapism via the internet becomes a coping mechanism for personal issues.
  • Students might overly discuss or reference platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter, exhibiting an overt reliance on digital interactions.
  • They may instinctively reach for their devices upon waking.
  • Some might manage multiple accounts across platforms, incessantly shuffling between them, marked by heightened anxiety.
  • The notification sound from their device might elicit an immediate, almost conditioned response, even amidst other activities. They might also exhibit an urgency to respond or seek instant validation from online interactions.
  • An escalating need for immediate gratification and a sense of victimization due to perceived information deprivation might manifest.
  • Excessive internet usage might begin adversely affecting their relationships, academic performance, or other essential facets of life.

Impact of FOMO and Social Media on Mental Health

The array of emotions triggered by FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, can seriously overshadow any potential positive effects of social media on students’ mental well-being. Some of the concerning implications include:

  • Students may attempt to reduce their internet usage, particularly for social networking or gaming, but often without success.
  • Denying students access to the internet can result in them feeling anxious or agitated.
  • FOMO can lead to an increased sense of anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, and burnout.
  • Such pressures can cause students to feel discontented with their lives, leading them to disengage from real-world interactions.
  • Prolonged hours on social media can lead to inadequate sleep, reduced attention spans, and poorer academic performance, further intensifying feelings of anxiety and isolation.
  • This can foster feelings of insufficiency and diminished self-worth.
  • Other emotional consequences include a negative self-perception, fear of failure, envy, and a heightened fear of missing out.
  • Some students might even turn to harmful addictions like drugs or engage in antisocial activities.
  • In extreme cases, students may harbor suicidal tendencies, which, in the gravest of circumstances, could lead to tragic outcomes.

Overcoming FOMO in the Age of Social Media

Addressing the ramifications of social media on students’ mental health requires a multifaceted approach. While the virtual space has its perks, its excessive use can be detrimental. The pervasive nature of platforms has accentuated the FOMO phenomenon among students. Thus, to mitigate its impact:

  • Setting boundaries on social media usage can enhance mental well-being.
  • Students should remain aware of their emotions during online interactions and sidestep negative spirals.
  • Recognizing that social media often portrays an embellished reality is crucial.
  • Occasional digital detoxes can be beneficial.
  • Prioritizing genuine, offline connections can offset feelings of isolation.
  • Students should foster healthy tech habits and involve themselves in well-being-centric activities.
  • It’s essential to advocate for self-care, self-acceptance, and occasional breaks from the digital realm.
  • Seeking professional counseling can help prioritize mental health.
  • Recognizing and circumventing specific FOMO triggers can be advantageous.
  • Positive habits can be cultivated to replace FOMO-driven behaviors.
  • A mindful approach to social media consumption can also be nurturing.
  • Investing time and energy in real-world activities can diminish the pull of the online world.
  • Support from educational institutions and parents can cultivate an open, accepting environment, empowering students to voice their concerns and seek assistance when required.

Also Read: 5 High Income Skills To Learn In 2023

In the modern digital landscape, FOMO has become an alarming concern, particularly impacting students’ mental well-being, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, and burnout. It is imperative for educators, parents, and students to collaborate in championing healthier social media habits and establishing a culture that foregrounds mental wellness. Through mindfulness, self-care, and controlled social media engagement, the detrimental effects of FOMO can be mitigated, fostering improved mental health.

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