Epidemiology and the consequences of fear of missing out (FOMO). The role of general practitioners in early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of FOMO in teenagers and young adults

1 General Practice Clinic, University Children’s Clinical Hospital in Bialystok, Białystok, Poland
2 School Complex No. 1 named after Marshal of Józef Klemens Piłsudski, Bielsk Podlaski, Poland
Correspondence: Anna Citko, MD, PhD, Wiosenna 2B, Fasty, 15-694 Białystok, Poland, e-mail: anka234@gmail.com

Pediatr Med Rodz 2020, 16 (1), p. 70–76
DOI: 10.15557/PiMR.2020.0012

Published reports, mainly concerning education and psychology, imply that FOMO may be a consequence of excessive and incorrect use of the Internet, social media and mobile devices. FOMO may be explained as a fear of missing out on important information. It disappears when people with FOMO check notifications on their telephone or sit down at a computer, and this leads to the development of a vicious circle. FOMO may lead to the development of e-addictions. A survey study conducted in a group of 1,060 randomly selected Poles aged 15 and older showed that one in five Internet users from the younger group of subjects had a high FOMO index. One fifth of respondents with FOMO suffer from somatic symptoms: nausea, dizziness, abdominal pain or increased sweating, when not using social media. The results of these studies prove that the FOMO problem is clearly noticeable among digital media users. Further studies on the incidence of FOMO are needed, particularly in the case of teenagers and young adults, to evaluate the health consequences of FOMO. Prevention of FOMO and the associated e-addictions should be implemented not only at schools, for example, as a part of the school syllabus, but also in the form of therapeutic treatments offered to people using digital tools in a risky way. General practitioners can be an important link in the chain of FOMO prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The advantageous solutions may include, for example, the implementation of a pilot programme for the prevention of FOMO and e-addictions addressed to teenagers, that will be financed from the National Health Fund resources and included in general practitioners’ practices.

Keywords: FOMO, addiction, prevention, teenagers