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Fear of Missing Out, Mental Wellbeing, and Social Connectedness: A Seven-Day Social Media Abstinence Trial

International Gaming Research Unit and Cyberpsychology Research Group, Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University, 50 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham NG1 4FQ, UK
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(12), 4566; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124566
Received: 29 May 2020 / Revised: 22 June 2020 / Accepted: 23 June 2020 / Published: 24 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychosocial Impacts of New Technologies and the Internet)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: social media use; social media abstinence; smartphone use; fear of missing out; mental wellbeing; social connectedness; social media addiction; social networking social media use; social media abstinence; smartphone use; fear of missing out; mental wellbeing; social connectedness; social media addiction; social networking
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MDPI and ACS Style

Brown, L.; Kuss, D.J. Fear of Missing Out, Mental Wellbeing, and Social Connectedness: A Seven-Day Social Media Abstinence Trial. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 4566. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124566

AMA Style

Brown L, Kuss DJ. Fear of Missing Out, Mental Wellbeing, and Social Connectedness: A Seven-Day Social Media Abstinence Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(12):4566. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124566

Chicago/Turabian Style

Brown, Lorna, and Daria J. Kuss 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, no. 12: 4566. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124566

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