Fear of Missing Out as a Predictor of Problematic Social Media Use and Phubbing Behavior among Flemish Adolescents

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Oct 22;15(10):2319. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15102319.


Fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) refers to feelings of anxiety that arise from the realization that you may be missing out on rewarding experiences that others are having. FOMO can be identified as an intra-personal trait that drives people to stay up to date of what other people are doing, among others on social media platforms. Drawing from the findings of a large-scale survey study among 2663 Flemish teenagers, this study explores the relationships between FOMO, social media use, problematic social media use (PSMU) and phubbing behavior. In line with our expectations, FOMO was a positive predictor of both how frequently teenagers use several social media platforms and of how many platforms they actively use. FOMO was a stronger predictor of the use of social media platforms that are more private (e.g., Facebook, Snapchat) than platforms that are more public in nature (e.g., Twitter, Youtube). FOMO predicted phubbing behavior both directly and indirectly via its relationship with PSMU. These findings support extant research that points towards FOMO as a factor explaining teenagers' social media use.

Keywords: addiction; adolescents; fear of missing out (FOMO); phubbing; problematic social media use (PSMU); social media; teenagers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Anxiety*
  • Behavior, Addictive
  • Cell Phone Use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Participation / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires