Teens suffer highest rates of FOMO

New survey: Heavy use of social media impacting wellbeing of Australians

A new survey has confirmed heavy use of social media is impacting the wellbeing of Australians, particularly our teenagers.

Released today to launch Psychology Week (8-14 November) the Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2015, conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS), found an association between the level of social media use and its impact on wellbeing.

The annual survey provides a yearly snapshot of the overall wellbeing of Australians, with this year’s results finding one in two Australian teenagers suffer from FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out). 
APS survey spokesperson, clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller MAPS said while heavy social media use has reported benefits, it’s important to be aware of the negative impact it can have on wellbeing.

“More than half of all Australian teenagers (56%) are heavy social media users. They reported benefits including stronger relationships, more effective goal setting, ability to seek help through social media, as well as feeling part of a global community, “Mr Fuller said.

“However, those teens who were heavy users also reported higher levels of FOMO.  They report fearing their friends were having more rewarding experiences than them (54%), being worried when they find out their friends are having fun without them (60%), and being bothered when they miss out on a planned get together (63%).”

The results are concerning, as social media seems to dominate the life of many teens with over half of Aussie teens (53%) reporting that they use social media 15 minutes before bed every night, while more than half (57%) of all surveyed teens found it difficult to relax or sleep after spending time on social networking sites. Moreover, two in five teens (60%) felt a sense of brain ‘burnout’ with the constant connectivity of social media.

“Young people, in particular, may need some assistance to moderate their social media use so it doesn’t have a negative impact on them,” he added.
The survey found the less time teens spend on social media the less they feel burnt out by it, the less they feel they are missing out, the less they are concerned that people will post ugly pictures of them, and they are less likely to feel bad about themselves if people didn’t ‘like’ their social media posts.

The findings also showed that the impact of FOMO does not stop once you enter adulthood. The survey showed 18 to 35-year-olds reported the highest levels of FOMO amongst adults. However, this age group also reported to be more likely to feel empowered to seek help through social media, to enrich their professional networks, and feel motivated to achieve health-related goals.

Across both age groups, heavy social media users experienced greater FOMO.

Mr Fuller said, “These results shouldn’t deter Australians from using social media, but instead encourage individuals to think about how social media use impacts their wellbeing to ensure the positives outweigh the negatives.”

The APS provides a free referral service for the general public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a psychologist at www.findapsychologist.org.au. To access detailed advice about managing stress, you may view the APS tip-sheet here


Media contact Mindy Gold, (02) 9237 2808 // 0431 143 897, mgold@buchanwe.com.au

Other significant survey findings include:

  • More than one in ten Australians (12%) reported issues with keeping up with social media networks have contributed to their overall levels of stress.
  • Environment issues are have an increasing impact on the stress and wellbeing of Australians   (16% in 2012 compared to 20% in 2015)
  • Australians are increasingly using gambling as means of managing stress (13% in 2011 compared to 19% in 2015)
  • 35% of Australians report having a significant level of distress in their lives
  • 26% of Australians report above normal levels of anxiety symptoms
  • 26% of Australians report having moderate to very severe depression symptoms

Note to editors:  A copy of the survey report is available upon request.
Professor Lyn Littlefield and a number of other psychologists are available for interview throughout Psychology Week.

About the APS
The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 22,000 members. During Psychology Week, APS psychologists around Australia host a large number of events and activities in their local communities to highlight psychology – the science of human behaviour – and how it can help people lead happier, healthier lives. To find an event go to www.psychologyweek.com. You can follow the latest updates from APS via Twitter @APS_Media, and join the conversation about Psychology Week via #psychweek and on Facebook www.facebook.com/AustralianPsychologicalSociety