Think you are addicted to the social media? If you cannot live without it for even a minute, check out if you're suffering from FOMO -- Fear of Missing Out. Health experts say the constant urge to be in touch with friends and happenings via smartphones has left many youths suffering from this new breed of disorder.
"Absence of social media can lead to FOMO. One tends to develop uneasiness if staying away from social media is for too long," says Delhi-based clinical psychologist Ripen Sippy.
Ashima Srivastava, consultant, clinical psychologist at Delhi's Max Superspeciality Hospital, calls FOMO a form of social anxiety. "It is more of a form of social anxiety than a phobia. It is a phenomenon where one feels pressurised to share everything on social media to show how much fun one is having," adds Srivastava.
According to psychologists, FOMO creates a strange fear of remaining isolated from the crowd.
"In FOMO, one develops the fear of missing out updates and important events; hence constantly remains preoccupied with checking mobile phones. The first thing one does is to check one's mobile phone to see if one has missed something significant," Sippy adds.
The FOMO anxiety arises from being neglected and isolated on the social media platform.
When asked what leads to FOMO anxiety, Sippy says: "The phobia of being disapproved, being unpopular and living ordinary lives. Insecurities arise in a person related to his own self-esteem if he/she is not liked by others on the social media. A person who becomes insecure about his/her image tries harder to be liked more and more on a social platform".
Psychologists also point out that socialisation was a factor for developing FOMO -- though social media helps one remain in touch with other people.
"But often socialisation brings in comparisons which lead to despair. One starts comparing oneself with others, both psychologically and socially, on where one stands in society and where the others do. The fear of missing out from the rest of the world starts arising," says Mumbai-based clinical psychologist Deepak Kashyap.
People start seeking love and attention from the virtual world when they don't get these in real life. "And the moment one stops getting the attention, FOMO phobia takes over," Kashyap noted.
Not just FOMO, but excessive use of social media is affecting the social behaviour of an individual. Work performances of adults, young adults and school children have also been affected owing to excessive use of social media.
"One may grow into an introvert and avoid socialising with others and may also develop 'social anhedonia', that is the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities," Srivastava adds.
Sippy adds: "A tendency grows to remain in the virtual world. One finds it difficult to face real life situations which often leads to imbalance in a relationship. One does not know how to react in real life situations in a quick span of time."
Psychologists also add that increased preoccupation with the social media is also affecting personal relationships with the family, friends and relatives. "One starts ignoring family members and remains more busy in texting or socialising via apps on mobile," they point out.
The impact also differs with age. According to psychologists, teenagers tend to be easily affected and face more problems.
But, don't panic as FOMO phobia can be controlled.
"Prioritising personal and social life is very important. The best way to overcome the social media phobias is learning to use it for a limited time," Sippy suggests. Spending three-four hours a day on social media is considered healthy but not more than that.
"Excessive use beyond a healthy limit should be avoided as it may lead to impairments in life," emphasises Sippy.
According to Kashyap, one should start changing the way social media is perceived. "It should be limited as a part of leisurely activity. One should remain more involved in physical activities, read more physical books and avoid e-books," Kashyap recommends.