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Too much smartphone use during COVID pandemic could be giving you FOMO

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

A new study suggests that excessive smartphone use during the COVID-19 pandemic may be giving you the fear of missing out (FOMO), a lack of self-control and repeated thinking.

A new survey study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, discovered associations between problematic smartphone use and a lack of control, repeated thinking, and fear of missing out (FOMO) during the Coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2021, indicating prospective paths for lessening the severity of such use.

According to earlier findings, smartphone use grew dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. While smartphones can improve daily routines and social connections, they can also be troublesome and have a detrimental impact on relationships, work, and mental or physical health.

A better understanding of the elements that may contribute to problematic smartphone use could help decrease the risk and management of such behavior.

To understand this better, using an online poll, Julia Brailovskaia of Ruhr-Universität Bochum and colleagues conducted a study in April and May 2021, including 516 smartphone users aged 18 and up in Germany.

The poll included questions about self-reported smartphone use as well as a sense of control, fear of missing out, and persistent negative thinking—three aspects that the researchers believed could contribute to problematic smartphone use, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey data were statistically analyzed, and it was discovered that a lack of control, fear of missing out, and persistent negative thinking were all connected with greater severity of problematic smartphone use.

The statistical study also showed plausible interactions between the four elements, even if the data did not prove causation. For example, fear of missing out could be a major reason by which a lack of control leads to problematic smartphone use. A higher level of recurrent negative thinking, on the other hand, was related to a stronger association between dread of missing out and problematic smartphone use.

People in the sample were mostly female and young. The authors say that the study should be repeated with more diverse groups of people from different countries, so that the results can be applied to other groups.

A further limitation of the study is that it was done during a time when participants’ normal daily routines may have been disrupted, which may have affected their sense of control. Nonetheless, the data support the concept that a loss of control, such as that experienced by some during the epidemic, may increase the risk of problematic smartphone use.

Based on their findings and previous research, the researchers recommend that physical activity and mindfulness techniques could aid in the reduction of problematic smartphone use.

The authors say: “Problematic smartphone use is fostered by the interaction of loss of control, fear of missing out and repetitive negative thinking.”

Source: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261023

Image Credit: Getty

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