Depression and anxiety symptoms are related to problematic smartphone use severity in Chinese young adults: Fear of missing out as a mediator

Addict Behav. 2020 Feb;101:105962. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.04.020. Epub 2019 Apr 20.


Introduction: Recently studies examined mediating psychological constructs accounting for relations between both depression and anxiety with problematic smartphone use (PSU) severity. The aim of the current study was to analyze the fear of missing out (FOMO) as a possible mediator in these relationships.

Method: We recruited 1034 Chinese undergraduate students via a web-based survey that measured smartphone use frequency, PSU, depression, anxiety and FOMO.

Results: Structural equation modeling demonstrated that FOMO was significantly related to smartphone use frequency and PSU severity. FOMO significantly mediated relations between anxiety and both smartphone use frequency and PSU severity. FOMO did not account for relations between depression and smartphone use/PSU.

Conclusion: This is one of the first studies testing FOMO in relation to PSU severity among Asian participants. FOMO may be an important variable accounting for why some types of psychopathology (e.g., anxiety) are associated with PSU.

Keywords: Fear of missing out; Internet addiction; Problematic smartphone use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • China
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet Addiction Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Internet Addiction Disorder / psychology
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Behavior*
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult