You may wish that FOMO was a fake buzzword pitched by your social media intern, but it’s very real. So real, in fact, that the shorthand for “fear of missing out” has been part of the Oxford English Dictionary for two years. And for good reason: What’s more topical today than a term that captures the potentially damaging effects social media can have on our mental health?
FOMO isn’t the only new mental-health worry in the age of social media. According to a new infographic from GetVoIP, more than half of respondents who took part in a 2012 study said social media had negatively changed their behavior, while 66 percent of respondents reported they have difficulty relaxing or sleeping after being on social networks.
Despite the fact that dopamine is released in our brains when we get a notification or click a new link, your mind on social media isn’t always a happy place. People can become addicted to that burst of dopamine, and they keep clicking to get more of it. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), which affects over 8 percent of the population, is characterized by “repetitive, compulsive, and uncontrolled use” of the Internet—a familiar sensation for many Internet denizens.
Another frightening outcome of social media is its facilitation of cyberbullying, which affects over 72 percent of students each year, and is dangerous for the victims’ mental and physical well-being. Of course, this all isn’t meant to demonize social media—but given studies such as this one, it’s obvious that we have to be careful about how we use it.
By now you probably have FOMO for this infographic, so don’t let me keep you any longer. Read, share, and maybe change a social media habit or two while you’re at it.