I’ve noticed that if I’m bored or down on my own life, I tend to spend more time on social media. In reality, that's also when I’m the most vulnerable to feeling down in the dumps and I don’t need to feel worse by comparison.
Comparing yourself to those around you is a negative thought pattern that will never make you happy and social media provides easy access when you’re at your weakest.
Fear of Missing Out
Researchers are studying the more negative side of social media through a phenomenon called the fear of missing out (FoMO). The rise of social media has given us a window like never before into the lives of those around us. It’s also caused the rise of FoMO, the fearing that others are having more fun and rewarding experiences than you are, according to Science Daily.
Researchers at the University of Essex devised the first study of its kind to pinpoint FoMO. Published in the journal Computer in Human Behaviors, the study found that as social media has become more accessible as a result of smartphones, FoMO has become more prevalent. The next step is the look at the impact of FoMO on overall mental health.
"I find Facebook rewarding to use, but how we are using social media is changing," explained lead researcher and psychologist Dr. Andy Przybylski to Science Daily. "It is no longer something we have to sit at a computer and log into as we have access all the time on our phones. It is easier to get into the rhythm of other people's lives than ever before as we get alerts and texts.
"We have to learn new skills to control our usage and enjoy social media in moderation. Until we do, it creates a double-edged sword aspect to social media."
The Most Vulnerable
Those under 30 are the most susceptible. Participants that didn’t have their psychological needs met by other means were likely to go on social media more often than others. According to Science Daily, you can take a version of the test yourself and see how you compare to the people taking part in the study here.
In this age of social media, parents need to be aware of the downsides of social media including depression and cyber bullying. Parents of kids 13 and younger should have parental controls in place on internet use. But as kids get older parents should have an open dialogue going with their kids regarding social media.