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Over half of social media users have a ‘fear of missing out’

Backtrack a few years, and you may find that social media users were pretty content to wait until they got to work or arrived home to check their Facebook or Twitter pages.

But in the age of the smartphone and tablet, there is now a more active type of user who can't resist a peep at their pages while on the go.

The prevalence of social media could also lead to the "hidden curse" of the fear of missing out (FoMO).

This is the concern that people have when it seems that others may be having more fun and rewarding experiences than they are, and leads to them wanting to keep continually connected with what others are doing.

For the first time, researchers from the University of Essex have found a way to measure FoMO in order to dig deeper into a phenomenon that has hit the mainstream with the growing ubiquity of social networks.

Lead researcher Dr Andy Przybylski says that FoMO is not new, but the prevalence of social media lets users see into other people's lives like never before.

Dr Przybylski says that he finds Facebook rewarding to use, but how people are using social media is changing.

"It is no longer something we have to sit at a computer and log into as we have access all the time on our phones. It is easier to get into the rhythm of other people's lives than ever before as we get alerts and texts.

The research found that people under the age of 30 were more affected by FoMO, with this group viewing social media as an important tool for them. They were also more dependent on social networks as part of their social development.

An infographic from MyLife.com also shed light on the phenomenon, revealing that more than half of social media users (56 per cent) are afraid of missing out on news, an event or important status updates if they don't keep an eye on their networks.

Social media remains important to many users with nearly three in five (58 per cent) wishing there was a solution to help them use, monitor and protect all their social networking profiles and emails at once, the infographic revealed.

Posted by April Revake.