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18 May 2017

Fear of Missing out as Driving Force for Teens’ Facebook Use

Keywords: teens, Websites, Western Europe, media, personality, social media, young adults, youth communication,

What drives teenagers to use Facebook? A study in Computers in Human Behavior shows that the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is one of the most important motivators. Moreover, the study shows that teens who experience more FoMO also perceive using Facebook as more stressful. They are afraid of not being invited for groups or events and of not receiving any likes or comments on their posts.

Take aways

  • Teens who feel a stronger need to belong to the group and a stronger need for popularity use Facebook more often.
  • This is because they experience more Fear of Missing Out (FoMO).
  • Teens who experience more FoMO also experience more stress related to Facebook use.

Study information

  • The question?

    What motivates young people to use Facebook?

  • Who?

    402 15 to 18 year old Facebook users (mean age: 16.41 years, 57% girls, 43% boys) from different high schools in Belgium offering different educational levels, including general education (i.e., education preparing students for college or university education), technical education (i.e., education with a focus on technical skills), and vocational education (i.e., education preparing students for specific professions).

  • Where?


  • How?

    Participants were asked to fill out a paper-and-pencil questionnaire on their need to belong (i.e., the need to develop and maintain important and stable interpersonal relationships), their need for popularity (i.e., the need to do certain things aimed at increasing one’s popularity), their fear of missing out (i.e., the fear that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent), their intensity of Facebook use and their perceived stress related to Facebook use (i.e., the extent to which they experience stress related to feedback from peers in the context of their Facebook use).

Facts and findings

  • Teens’ with a higher need to belong and need for popularity experienced more Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) and, in turn, also used Facebook more often.
  • FoMO was related with increased perceived stress due to the fear of not belonging to peers on Facebook and not being popular among peers on Facebook.
  • Critical note: No conclusions can be drawn about cause (social needs and fear of missing out) and effect (Facebook use and perceived stress). This study only shows that social needs and the fear of missing out are related to Facebook use and perceived stress in young people.