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“Fear of missing out”substantial cause of social media addiction, study finds

File photo dated 03/01/18 of social media app icons. Headteachers are calling for new social media laws to keep children safe, amid concerns that youngsters' use of these sites is harming their mental health. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 9, 2018. According to a small-scale poll by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) most school leaders have received reports of pupils being bullied or being exposed to unsuitable material - such as sexual content or hate speech, with some saying this is happening on a daily or weekly basis. See PA story EDUCATION SocialMedia. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

By Josh Payne, Press Association

Fear of missing out (Fomo) is one of the greatest causes of social media addiction, a study has found.

Psychologists have suggested Fomo, irrational beliefs and poor mental health were the primary factors in the addictive behaviour.

Results also showed that those who use significantly more social media platforms are at a higher risk of addiction.

A study conducted by Nottingham Trent University found that around 5% of participants could be classed as having a high risk of addiction.

The findings also showed 32% of people used social media "a great deal" - with the same figure saying they suffered problems due to their social networking use.

Dr Halley Pontes, a psychologist at the university's School of Social Sciences, said: "When experiencing Fomo chronically, it could lead to addictive behaviour towards social media use.

"It is important to know that Fomo may be worsened by the fact that we are being constantly reminded about what we are missing out on via all the notifications we receive to our phones.

"One potential strategy to curb Fomo may be to manage which notifications we want to receive."

Dr Pontes continued: "Although the origin of Fomo may vary from one person to another, it is often a result of a deficit in psychological need, such as social connection.

"For this reason, living a socially fulfilling life where psychological needs towards social connections can be met may also help overcome anxiety associated with Fomo.

"Previous studies have tended to focus exclusively on Facebook addiction, but we have gone beyond this to examine a range of social networking sites. We hope the findings might also be of use to therapists in helping them to refine their treatment."

Pic by Yui Mok/PA Wire