Fear of missing out, mental wellbeing, and social connectedness: a seven-day social media abstinence trial

Brown, L. and Kuss, D.J. ORCID: 0000-0001-8917-782X, 2020. Fear of missing out, mental wellbeing, and social connectedness: a seven-day social media abstinence trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (12): 4566.

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Smartphones aid the constant accessibility of social media (SM) applications, and these devices and platforms have become a key part of our everyday lives and needs. Previous research has focused on the psychological impact of social media use (SMU) and SM abstinence has only received limited attention. Therefore, employing a combination of an experimental within-subjects mixed methodology using surveys to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data, this study aimed to compare psychosocial factors of fear of missing out (FoMO), mental wellbeing (MWB), and social connectedness (SC) before and after seven days of SM abstinence. Results revealed that participants (N = 61) experienced a significant increase in MWB and SC, and a significant decrease in FoMO and smartphone use following SM abstinence. There was a significant positive relationship between MWB and SC change scores and a significant negative relationship between SC and FoMO change scores. There were no significant differences in levels of SMU before abstinence or across genders in FoMO, MWB, and SC change scores. Thematic analysis revealed coping, habit, and boredom as motivations for SMU, and notification distractions presenting a challenge for successful abstinence from SM. Participants indicated that abstinence resulted in the perceived need to fill their time with non-SM applications. Finally, thematic analysis revealed mixed experiences of perceived connectivity in the absence of SMU. Findings present implications for the importance of unplugging from SM for temporary periods because scrolling through SM to fill time is a key motivator of SMU, and notifications encourage SMU and trigger FoMO.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Creators: Brown, L. and Kuss, D.J.
Publisher: MDPI AG
Date: 2020
Volume: 17
Number: 12
Rights: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/12/4566.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 04 Aug 2020 14:25
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:18
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/40317

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