While you may think that the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) is a fictional emotion created by Millennials, a new study suggests that the phenomenon has real psychological side effects. According to the research, FOMO is causing more young people to take risks on social media, including posting inappropriate or self-promoting material, which could ironically lead to worse self-esteem and unhappiness.

FOMO is a fairly new term, but the meaning is timeless: Not wanting to miss out on having fun with your friends. Comedian Dave Attell coined the phenomenon "Fun Happens Late" Although the feeling that you're always missing the good stuff has likely always existed, researchers have noted that social media amplifies the emotion by giving users a glimpse into the lives of others that was not possible before.

In an attempt to avoid the negative feelings associated with feeling “left out,” social media users may connect with more people on social media, post and update their social media platforms more frequently, and disclose more information about themselves and their activities with the public. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost and could make users targets for online mocking and bullying, which can consequently lead to lowered self esteem. The researchers got their results from surveying more than 500 UK-based Facebook users about their online activities, according to the study.

Increased posting may also disrupt real life social relationships. For example, as explained by study author Sarah Buglass, a friend previously may not have known that you went out without them, but now it’s not likely to go unnoticed because the friend posted pictures on social media or disclosed in other ways, The Nottingham Post reported.

"While looking at a stream of posts about births, weddings and nights out may seem harmless, our study examined the potentially darker implications of being ever-connected to social media sites and the possible effect on wellbeing," said Buglass.

Don’t worry though, avoiding the consequences of FOMO do not mean you have to give up your beloved social media platforms completely. Instead, Buglass suggests simply using social networking sites in moderation. Also, try not to compare your own life with others too much, because not everything is what it seems in the cyber world.

Source:Buglass SL. Motivators of online vulnerability: The impact of social network site use and FOMO. Computers in Human Behavior. 2016

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