1 Department of Community and Mental Health, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman
Students with Fear of missing out (FOMO) are profoundly connected and updated with others via constant social media connections to satisfy their needs and self-recognition. They use social media platforms to build new relationships, belong to some social group, remain fully informed, and fulfill their affiliation needs, which can increase their urge to spend more time visiting other people’s profiles and comparing their life achievements with others. Thus, this study has been conceptualized to investigate gender differences of FOMO experiences among undergraduate students in Oman.
A descriptive correlational and cross-sectional study design was chosen to achieve the research purpose among Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) undergraduate students. The total sample was 339. The experiences of fear of missing out were measured by using the Fear of Missing Out scale. The items were measured on a 5-point Likert-scale ranging from (“not at all true of me”) (“extremely true of me”).
The mean age was approximately 21.56 years. Our study shows a homogeneous gender variation (female 50.15% (n=170), and male 49.85% (n=169). However, the majority of the participants were single (93.5%), lived out-campus (56%), and in their 5th academic year (33.92%).
Males scored higher fear of missing out than females 24.8693 and 22.829, respectively, the results of this study possess a significant gender differences in the experiences of fear of missing out (p = 0.009).
The university students surveyed, experienced a moderate level of FOMO. However, males scored a higher level of fear of missing out than females. They focus more on expanding social connections compared to females. Factors such as culture, norms, and self-image may play a role in experiencing FOMO, more studies are required in that claim.
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The expansion of mobile use in modern society has become an essential mark of our civilization, changing it rapidly due to its tremendous benefits in social connection, entertainment, information seeking, and others . Digital devices, such as smartphones and their applications, can be misused in a variety of different ways in which an unhealthy, harmful psychological dependency, anxiety, and fear can occur .
Literature defined Fear of missing out (FoMo) as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent” (Przybylski et al., 2013), people who have a higher level of FOMO are assumed to remain profoundly connected and updated to via a constant social media connections , to satisfy their needs and self-recognition .
College students are using smartphones and their applications more frequently than other subgroups . They spend a considerable period on their smartphones for learning and entertainment purposes . They are experiencing a higher level of FOMO ; they spend sufficient time using their smart devices for learning purposes, in which they can find a reasonable period of contacting others via social media, as well as a platform of emotional support and social engagements .
Like any other individual, students tend to use social media platforms to build new relationships, belong to some social group, remain fully informed, and fulfill their affiliation needs , they might spend more and more time on the social media celebrating their achievements, and visiting other people’s profiles, leading them to contemplate on the rewarding experiences the other might have, comparing their life achievement with others, and feeling themselves less valued , as a consequence, rumination (repetitive focusing on one's negative thoughts) can represent the cognitive aspect of anxiety in social relationships, and the habitual checking of upcoming social notifications through the social media platforms . Thus, the more negative effect on their self-esteem, the more urge to use social media more frequently to update themselves with what is going on in others' lives .
For students, it is not only the frequent use of social media but also the use of various platforms to relieve the urge regarding not being aware of other social updates , which means that they might access plenty of social media applications to fulfill their needs. Few types of researches were conducted to address experiencing the Fear of Missing out, particularly in Oman. Hence, for the current study, we expected that gender differences also could play a role in experiencing fear of missing out, and for that reason, our study is conceptualized.
A descriptive correlational and cross-sectional study design was chosen to achieve the research purpose. The total sample for the study was 400 students calculated by using the power analysis. The sample was detected by using the power analysis with Confident interval 95, and margin error 5%. It was estimated with an effect size of 0.5 (α = 0.05, p = 0.800). The sample consists of those students who met the eligibility criteria of being enrolled in the undergraduate program, completed their foundation programs, and had at least one smartphone. After data cleaning, the investigators obtained 339 samples, the sample was chosen on convenience, and after obtaining approval from the Institutional Research Ethics Committee and Deans of Colleges, the investigator approached students to obtain written informed consent, in which the study design, purpose, methods, and potential benefits were explained adequately, assuring that their participation was voluntary and confidential. The questionnaires were distributed over two months during the summer semester 2019 by the research team at the Sultan Qaboos university colleges after student's lectures.
We used a self-report instrument to address the research questions, the tool divided into two sections: (1) demographic data, and (2) the fear of missing out scale
The demographic data section assessed socio-demographic information such as age, gender, marital status, living arrangement, type of enrolled program, academic year, and the pattern of mobile.
The FOMO scale consisted of 10 items developed by the Przybylski team . The items were measured on a 5-point Likert-scale ranging from one (“not at all true of me”) to five (“extremely true of me”). The FOMO scale demonstrated good internal consistency (Cronbach’s α = .90), and presented acceptable levels of skewness (1.10) and kurtosis (1.05). However, no cutoff point is measured. The higher scores indicate higher levels of FOMO.
We used the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software, at a 0.05 level of significance, to analyze our data. Means and standard deviations represented students’ age, GPA, and NMP-Q score, while percentages and frequencies were used to describe gender, marital status, type of academic program, and academic year. Analysis of variance was performed to determine the significant statistical differences between the variables.
Of the 400 distributed questionnaires, 372 were returned to the researchers, giving a response rate of 93%. Out of that, only 339 participants met the eligibility criteria, the age of the respondents ranged from 18 to 33, and the mean age was approximately 21.56 years. Our study shows a homogeneous gender variation (female 50.15% (n=170), and male 49.85% (n=169). However, the majority of the participants were single (93.5%), lived out-campus (56%), and in their fifth academic year (33.92%) (Table 1).
The reliability of the Fear of missing out scale was assessed and showed a Cronbach’s α of 0.854. A composite fear of missing out score was calculated by summarizing the students’ responses to the questionnaire; these scores ranged from 10 to 50, indicating a moderate level of fear of missing out. Table 2 presents the percentages of male and female responses to the Fear of missing out scale’s questions.
The mean score of fear of missing out for both gender on the FOMO scale was approximately 23.85. However, males scored higher fear of missing out than females 24.87 and 22.83, respectively. The result of the study shows significant gender differences in the number of smartphone students have (P=.002), male students (37%) own more than one smartphone compared to females students (21.4%), however, the results of this study possess a significant gender differences in the experiences of fear of missing out (p = 0.009), (Table 3).
Indeed, few studies have been conducted, especially among undergraduate students investigating the problem of fear of missing out. This study is considered as a primary step toward understanding the role of gender differences in predicting this phenomenon among college students in Oman.
Table 1 Demographical characteristics of study participants.
Total Number (n)
Total Percentage %
Number of smartphones
More than 2
Table 1 Demographical characteristics of study participants.
Table 2 Gender-based responses to the Fear of missing out scale’s questions.
Not at all True
I fear others have more rewarding experiences than me.
I fear my friends have more rewarding experiences than me.
I get worried when I find out my friends are having fun without me.
I get anxious when I don’t know what my friends are up to.
It is important that I understand my friends ‘‘in-jokes''.
Sometimes, I wonder if I spend too much time keeping up with what is going on
It bothers me when I miss an opportunity to meet up with friends.
When I have a good time, it is important for me to share the details online (e.g., updating status).
When I miss out on a planned get-together, it bothers me.
When I go on vacation, I continue to keep tabs on what my friends are doing.
Table 2 Gender-based responses to the Fear of missing out scale’s questions.
Table 3 Result of ANOVA analysis.
Sum of Squares
Table 3 Result of ANOVA analysis.
Smartphones are inescapable innovation that imprints our life due to their numerous benefits . Youth are using them more frequently than ever before despite their huge influences on health . It seems that the majority of the participants have at least one smartphone device, 75.18% (n=225). However, we found significant differences in the number of smartphones among males and females; males own as more devices than females 16.52% (n=56) and 8.25% (n=38), respectively. Similar findings support our claim of gender differences of nomophobia experiences . On the other hand, previous studies indicated that the number of smartphones used by the students is not significantly associated with the experiences of FOMO ; thus, it can be said that the way of using the smartphone rather than the number of smartphones can influence the experiences of FOMO.
Although both genders experience a moderate level of fear of missing out, our result highlights significant gender differences is in FOMO (P=.009). Males scored a higher level of fear of missing out than females, which is supported by other previous studies . However, some other investigations possess to say that females are more likely to treat their social media platforms as their virtual showcase of self-presentation .
To support our claim, it can be inferred that both genders use the social media platforms to promote their socialization with their families and friends; Studies show that males were significantly more addicted to social media than females ; males are more inclined to expand their connection for more purposes and search for eligible people with similar interests, while females tend to emphasize social and emotional bonding with their family  and emphasize more on the existing relationship .
People paid more attention to physical appearance . As long as males are strongly connected to their smartphone and its application, they are more likely to post Selfie reflecting their histrionic personality  requesting others’ social approval and seeking more attention .
As in most Arab countries, culture and social norms have a significant impact on human socialization. In the world of social media, females might hide their identity and personal information and unripe to disclose their social media usage. They upgrade their security policies often to allow certain people to access their profile on social media or limit their login advantages .
Females are also more aware of the fact that cyberbullying occurs on social media platforms , they might disclose or explore more victims stories than male, which limit their prolong access to the social media and profile updates or unknown friends’ request acceptance.
The study shows some limitations; first, the sampling technique is a crucial issue. We recommend studying this within a large sample. Second, gathering data was only from one Omani governmental university, which may also limit our generalization. Future studies should also highlight the cultural differences, social norms, body image, and self-presentation that might play a key role in differentiating gender experiences of FOMO.
The results of this study possess a significant gender difference in the experiences of fear of missing out. Males scored a higher level of fear of missing out than females. Males are more inclined to expand their connection for many purposes, while females tend to emphasize the real social and emotional bonding with their family and friends. Factors such as culture, norms, and self-image may play a role in experiencing FOMO, more studies are required in that claim. Colleges, academic administrators, and mobile companies are responsible for increasing awareness regarding this phenomenon, and the man should also train himself to utilize his smartphone effectively to reap benefits rather than winning on the disadvantages.
ETHICS APPROVAL AND CONSENT TO PARTICIPATE
The current research project was approved by the ethical committee in Sultan Qaboos University Muscat, Oman.
HUMAN AND ANIMAL RIGHTS
CONSENT FOR PUBLICATION
The investigator approached students to obtain written informed consent, in which the study design, purpose, methods, and potential benefits were explained adequately, assuring that their participation was voluntary and confidential.
AVAILABILITY OF DATA AND MATERIALS
The author does not wish to share the data since, there are some other ongoing studies using it right now.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The author declares no conflict of interest, financial or otherwise.
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Abdullah Shehab Emirates Cardiac Society Emirates Medical Association Dubai (UAE)
Dr. Abdullah Shehab has 22 years of experience in Internal medicine, cardiology and interventional cardiology and medical education. Currently, he serves as the General Secretary of Emirates Cardiac Society and Vice President of Gulf Intervention Society. He is a Fellow of royal college of physicians UK, American college of physician, European society of cardiology, of American college of cardiology, American society of cardiac intervention and fellow of American heart association. Professor Shehab is the Chief editor of Emirates Medical Journal and also serves as editor in many other regional and international journals. Dr. Shehab has published 149 paper in Medline. His research interest includes: Heart failure, Coronary artery disease, Dyslipidaemia, Hypertension, Arrhythmias, Cardiac intervention, Cardiac imaging, Screening for cardiac disease in sport players, Cardiovascular disease in pregnancy.