Impact Factor 4.157 | CiteScore 3.5
More on impact ›

ORIGINAL RESEARCH article

Front. Psychiatry, 18 February 2021 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.620442

The Effects of the Fear of Missing Out on People's Social Networking Sites Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Mediating Role of Online Relational Closeness and Individuals' Online Communication Attitude

  • 1Department of Humanities, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
  • 2Department of Health Sciences, School of Psychology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

Forced isolation induced by COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted individuals' well-being, reducing the opportunities for social encounters, consequently resulting in a greater use of social media in order to maintain social relationships. Although the range of friend-related activities appeared to be severely constrained during quarantine, the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) needs to be carefully examined, especially in relation to problematic social networking site use (PSNSU). Indeed, FoMO might enhance individuals' need to stay connected and communicate with other people, leading to PSNSU, in order to face the fear of being invisible in the world of social media in circumstances of physical isolation. The present study sought to evaluate the predictive role of FoMO on PSNSU during the COVID-19 pandemic, testing the mediating effect of online relational closeness and online communication attitude. A total of 487 Italian adults (59.3% women), aged between 18 and 70 years (mean age = 29.85 years; SD = 9.76), responded to an online survey during the period of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Italy. The survey included self-report measures assessing perceived FoMO, online communication attitude, relational closeness with online friends, and PSNSU. Participants declared they spent significantly more time social networking during the pandemic, particularly women. The total model accounted for a significant amount of variance in participants' PSNSU [R2 = 0.54; F(9, 447) = 58.285, p < 0.001). Despite the other people's social rewarding experiences had been drastically reduced by the lockdown, findings showed a direct effect of FoMO on PSNSU. Moreover, FoMO had an effect on online communication attitude and online relational closeness, although only online communication attitude predicted, in turn, PSNSU. Conversely, relational closeness on social networking sites did not predict PSNSU. The present study suggests that, during COVID-19 lockdown, FoMO levels may have strengthened attitudes toward online communication, which, in turn, may have put some individuals at risk of PSNSU.

Introduction

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people's lives represents a critical issue that deserves empirical examination for mental health science (1). Indeed, the experience of isolation and separateness due to the forced physical-distancing has impacted on people's relationships and well-being, resulting in negative psychological outcomes (24), sometimes leading to fatal events (57).

In this context, the relevance that fears had on individual behavior and functioning represents an important matter of the debate. Accordingly, an integrated model of understanding fear experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic has been recently proposed, together with a multidimensional assessment for COVID-19-related fears (8, 9). Moreover, the experience of fear specifically related to interpersonal features (i.e., the fear of missing out and fear of not mattering to other people), resulting from individuals' psychological needs not met due to the pandemic, has been discussed as a crucial point for public health (10). Generally, stressful and uncertain situations increase anxiety and emphasize the individuals' need to receive social support by sharing similar experiences with others (11). Indeed, as previously stated, the loss of one's usual routine and reduced social contacts may cause frustration and a sense of isolation, which can generate high levels of distress (1214). A 2-month follow-up study among Italian people during the Covid-19 lockdown showed an increase in stress and depression in the course of the lockdown (15). Relevant to the current study, this recent research has also shown that fewer coping strategies were associated with increased depression at follow-up. This suggests that how individuals dealt with their experience of isolation, including their need to communicate, belong to, and be part of a community, may well represent key issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within this context, the use of social networking sites (SNSs) fulfilled the essential function of connection (16) by helping individuals to grow their social capital, and supporting relational closeness to the others via online interactions (1720). The positive effects of SNSs have been clearly demonstrated, as they may promote positive functioning and foster positive emotional states (21, 22). Indeed, SNSs have been proposed as tools for alleviating anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic (16), by allowing individuals to feel that they are not alone but part of a community (23). Smartphone apps and social technologies have had the potential to enhance individuals' experience of connectedness, despite the disclosed risks of infodemic and technological exhaustion (2426). Accordingly, the positive central role of a recreational and needful use of videogames and SNSs in times of physical and social distancing, has been evidenced even though carefully addressed (27, 28), also suggesting that an excessive use of SNSs might temporarily act as a coping strategy (29, 30). However, some authors have recently argued that this coping mechanism might potentially lead to a longer-lasting threat (i.e., Problematic Social Networking Sites Use; PSNSU) in keeping with findings from a few recent studies (31, 32).

Fear of Missing Out and Social Networking Site Use

The Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is defined as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing. For those who fear missing out, participation in social media may be especially attractive” (31, p. 1841). Indeed, the online environment constitutes an ideal context to fulfill the need to be connected with the others and to be socially informed despite the distance, satisfying individuals' need for relatedness (10). For this reason, some studies [e.g., (33)] have focused their attention on the association between FoMO and Internet addiction. However, Internet addiction has been criticized as being an inadequate umbrella term that overlooks important differences between various online activities (34, 35) which, conversely, warrant specific and differentiated attention (3638). Specifically, PSNSU has been defined as “being overly concerned about social networking sites (SNSs), to be driven by a strong motivation to log on to or use SNSs, and to devote so much time and effort to SNSs that it impairs other social activities, studies/job, interpersonal relationships, and/or psychological health and well-being” [(39), p. 4054]. Previous research has found a positive association between FoMO and social media misuse (4043). Moreover, findings on gender-related differences suggested that women tend to score higher on FoMO than men (44, 45).

As the desire—or the need—to be continually connected with others is easily satisfied by using SNSs, it has been suggested that FoMO might be a risk factor for PSNSU. FoMO is a direct predictor of PSNSU use or a mediator in the relationships between psychopathological symptoms and negative outcomes arising from SNS use (46, 47). FoMO was also found to predict metacognitions associated with social media use, which, in turn, predict unregulated social media use (48). Thus, individuals may try to regulate their FoMO through massive use of social media because they believe that this tool is useful for regulating their fear of being excluded.

As pandemic does not constitute a usual life-circumstance, and social restrictions due to the COVID-19 epidemic have reduced the opportunities for social encounters, FoMO needs to be carefully questioned. Casale and Flett (10) have recently discussed the utility of the FoMO construct during the current pandemic, suggesting that this construct might become less relevant and salient because of the currently prevailing conditions. It might be the case that aspects of the psychological reality that this construct is intended to represent are either missing or have been drastically reduced. The FoMO construct includes, by definition, the possibility for significant others to have fun or to enjoy rewarding experiences, planning get-togethers, and meet up with friends. However, social isolation restricts the range of what friends are actually doing because their behavior is severely constrained. One might argue that if FoMO levels decrease in times of pandemic, unhealthy behaviors and negative outcomes related to high levels of FoMO (i.e., PSNUS) should show a decrease as well (10). Consequently, there is a need to investigate if the well-established positive association between FoMO levels and PSNUS remains stable during the pandemic or, instead, if it might be the case that PSNSU is driven by different psychological risk factors depending on the circumstances. Recent findings have reported that the psychological burden of the COVID-19 pandemic includes increased social media use in order to maintain social relationships (49). Individuals who are afraid of being invisible in the world of social media (8) and who are in situations of physical isolation will more likely need to find ways to stay connected with other people. Hence, these conditions might enhance massive or problematic SNSs use. Below we will describe the specific mechanisms that might explain how FoMO might impact on PSNSU in time of physical distancing.

Online Communication Attitude and Relational Closeness Across Social Networking Sites

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has been described as a digitally-mediated pattern of communication (5052). For younger generations, CMC is essential to the initiation, development, and maintenance of interpersonal relationships (53). Within this context, the Online Communication Attitude (OCA) has been conceptualized as a cluster of cognitive and affective orientations, that is a trait-like attitude and relatively enduring organization of beliefs that leads individuals to respond in some preferential manner toward online communication, thus influencing online behaviors and relational outcomes (54, 55). More specifically, attitudes toward online self-disclosure (OSD) and online social connection (OSC) have been stated as two core features of individuals' OCA, affecting media-use patterns in the interpersonal relationship (54, 56). According to Ledbetter (54), those with a high attitude toward OSD feel more comfortable and less embarrassed when sharing personal information across social media and are less shy when communicating online, whereas those with high attitude toward OSC share the belief that loss of online communication would reduce contact with others and dramatically change their social life. It seems that attitudinal variables strongly predict the motives for socialization and interpersonal relationships development/maintenance via SNSs (57). In this regard, previous research has posited that the more people are prone to communicate via online social platforms (i.e., keeping social contacts and self-disclosing online), the more this attitude will influence their engagement in SNSs for interpersonal relationships and, in turn, relational closeness to friends across SNSs (54, 55).

In this regard, Vangelisti and Caughlin (58) highlighted the importance of psychological closeness to others within the context of personal disclosure. Later, according to Aron et al. (59), Ledbetter et al. (55) conceptualized relational closeness as “a subjective experience of intimacy, emotional affinity, and psychological bonding with another person” (p. 34), which plays a critical role in online relationships contributing to individuals' experiences of intimacy and emotional closeness. Moreover, assuming that self-disclosure and social connection are basic motivations that promote online interpersonal communication (54), it has been demonstrated that these attitudes toward online communication may directly influence relational closeness to the others via online relationships (55).

Therefore, relational closeness has been posited as an important interpersonal outcome, associated with online communication, supporting the dominance of close ties in the provision of social support via social media (60, 61). Similarly, comments from relationally close individuals are more supportive if compared to a relationally non-close reply (62, 63) and may influence adolescents' identity development, including sociability and self-esteem (64). In this regard, psychological outcomes should be considered depending on the healthy or unhealthy use of online communication and relationships. Accordingly, Baym and Ledbetter (65) already posited a strict association between the quality of relationship with SNS friends and the frequency of SNS contacts, as well as scientific research has increasingly explored the strong relationship between Internet use/misuse and interpersonal facets of Internet applications [e.g., (42, 6671)].

In fact, the use of SNSs provides for social connections, information, and emotional content-sharing, as well as for experiences of online self-disclosure, intimacy, and emotional closeness. However, contradictory results concerning the use of new communication technologies highlighted positive (54, 72, 73) rather than deleterious (7476) effects on the quality of interpersonal relationships. Specifically, despite online communication may fulfill critical needs of social interactions, self-disclosure, and identity exploration in young people (77), this attitude has been associated with compulsive Internet use and a specific preference for online social interactions (56). Moreover, even though responding to the need of facing negative emotions and searching for social support (31, 78, 79), the preference for computer-mediated interactions may trigger risky psychosocial and relational outcomes (8082). Particularly, attitude toward OSC has emerged as a significant positive predictor of social media use (83) and relational closeness across SNSs (55), likely a healthy, communicatively competent motivation for using online communication. Conversely, OSD has been associated with negative psychosocial and relational outcomes, probably due to the individual's desire for over-controlling or falsifying personal self-presentation (55, 56, 80, 81). Accordingly, a recent study from the Authors (blinded reference for peer review), confirmed the association between OSD and negative relational outcomes suggesting that young adults who were prone to self-disclose online largely tend to prefer online social interactions. Moreover, these recent findings also reinforced previous few evidence on the predicting role that online communication attitudes may have on relational closeness with online friends (55).

Finally, gender-related differences have been indicated in individuals use of social media, thus showing that females disclose more than their male peers principally using social media for relational purposes (8487). However, recently higher scores in men's self-disclosure and relational closeness with online friends (Authors, submitted, blinded reference) suggested a reconsideration of gender-related differences in online communication attitudes and social media use, addressing for further investigation.

Interestingly, the potential effect of FoMO on PSNSU through online self-disclosure and online social connection has not yet been the focus of scientific attention. On the one hand, previous studies supported a positive association between FoMO levels and problematic social media use. On the other hand, previous findings show that attitudes toward online communication directly predict relational closeness toward online friends and that the higher the attitude toward online self-disclosure and online social connection, the higher the compulsive use of social media. It is psychologically plausible that those who fear to be excluded might develop stronger attitudes toward online self-disclosure and online social connection in a time of physical and social distancing, in order to meet their need to be socially connected. That is, we speculated that in time of social restrictions, attitudes toward the online environment are enhanced because the forced lockdown might have merely transferred social interactions to the online environment and this, in turn, might put a person at risk to develop PSNSU.

The Present Study

Accordingly, we hypothesized that individuals who are afraid of being excluded or invisible to the others, in situations of physical isolation would more likely need to find ways to be close and connected, to become visible self-disclosing in the only possible context of interaction they could use during the pandemic lockdown. Therefore, the current study aimed to explore the predicting role of FoMO on PSNSU during the COVID-19 social restrictions, testing the mediating effect of the online communication attitude and online relational closeness on this relationship. In detail, we expected to find an association between FoMO levels and PSNSU in accordance with previous studies [e.g., (33, 41, 43, 46)]. Moreover, we expected that FoMO would influence the tendency toward online social connections and promote the need for interpersonal contacts and relational closeness to the others via online social interactions, which would lead in turn to PSNSU (Figure 1). Finally, since there are gender-related differences in individuals' attitude toward online communication and FoMO levels, we explored gender differences in this relationship.

FIGURE 1
www.frontiersin.org

Figure 1. Hypothesized parallel mediation model.

Thus, the following hypotheses were proposed and tested:

H1: There will be self-reported higher use of SNS during the pandemic compared to previous levels;

H2: FoMO will positively affect PSNSU through online communication and relational closeness on social networking sites. We expected this mediation to be partial rather than full, as other mechanisms through which FoMO influences PSNSU (e.g., metacognitions) are also likely to operate.

Methods

Participants and Procedure

A total of 487 Italian adults responded to an online survey. The sample comprised 198 men (40.7%) and 289 women (59.3%) aged between 18 and 70 years, with a mean age of 29.85 years (SD = 9.76). Participants were recruited during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown phase in Italy (specifically from April 1st to 30th 2020) via advertisements in Italian university Web communities and other online groups (via social media platforms), which asked for dissemination among their members. Therefore, a snowball sampling method was adopted as a recruitment strategy. The call for participation in the online study contained a website link for participants to click on in order to fill out the questionnaire. Participants were informed of the research aims, its scope, and the measures to be used in generating the data. Participation was voluntary. Confidentiality and anonymity were guaranteed. The participants could withdraw from the study at any time. No course credits or payment was given. There were no specific inclusion criteria, except that of being of legal age which, according to Italian law, is 18 years of age. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Naples Federico II and was conducted according to the ethical guidelines for psychological research established by the Italian Psychological Association (AIP).

Measures

Sociodemographic Information and Social Media Use Patterns

Information was collected about gender, age, ethnic origin, being student, marital status, geographical provenance, whether the participant was living alone during the quarantine, the most used social networking sites, and hours per day spent social networking before and during forced isolation due to COVID-19. A score was calculated that reflected the difference between the number of hours participants declared they spent on SNSs during and before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Fear of Missing Out Scale

The Italian version of the FoMO scale [(48); original English version by (88)] was used to evaluate the fears, worries, and anxiety people might have in relation to being out of touch with events, experiences, and conversations among their social circles (e.g., “I fear my friends have more rewarding experiences than me”). FoMO is a 10-item scale rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not at all true of me) to 5 (extremely true of me). Higher scores indicate a higher Fear of Missing Out. The Cronbach alpha in the current study was α = 0.83.

Online Communication Attitude Scale

The online self-disclosure (OSD) and online social connection (OSC) subscales of the Italian version of the OCA scale [(54); Authors, submitted, blinded reference] were used. The online self-disclosure attitude subscale contains seven items (e.g., “I feel like I can be more open when I am communicating online”), and the online social connection subscale contains six items (e.g., “I would communicate less with my friends if I couldn't talk with them online”). Participants responded on a 7-point Likert-type scale with response options ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Cronbach's α values for the online self-disclosure and online social connection subscales were 0.91 and 0.82, respectively.

Relational Closeness

A preliminary Italian version of Vangelisti and Caughlin's (58) seven-item measure was used to assess relational closeness with online friends (e.g., “How often do you talk about personal things with your online friends?” and “How close are you to your online friends?”). Participants responded on a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much). The measure demonstrated strong internal reliability (α = 0.91).

This preliminary Italian version of the relational closeness measure was obtained using a back-translation method in which one translator translated the tests from the source language (English) to the target language (Italian). A second translator, without having seen the original test, translated the new versions of the tests back to the source language. The original and the back-translated versions of the tests were then compared, and judgments were made about their equivalence. Although not yet validated, this measure has been used in a previous study on Italian sample of adolescents and adults, showing a good internal consistency (α = 0.92) and a strong correlation with OCA and preference for online social interactions (POSI) [(89) unpublished thesis dissertation; Authors, submitted, blinded reference].

Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale 2

The 15-item Italian version of GPIUS2 [(90) original English version by (91)] assesses the degree to which someone experiences the cognitions, behaviors, and outcomes arising because of the unique communicative context of the Internet on a scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 8 (strongly agree). Participants' scores on the 15 items can be added up to create an overall GPIU score. As in various previous studies (92, 93), since the GPIUS2 items are referred to the use of the Internet without differentiating between different activities carried out online, for the purposes of the present study the word “Internet” has been replaced by “social networking sites” (e.g., “I have used SNS to feel better when I was down”). In the current study, Cronbach's α was 0.90.

The online survey was administered to a pilot sample of 10 undergraduate volunteers (four men and six women), in order to explore possible difficulties with the items and the online survey.

Statistical Analyses

Descriptive statistics were performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences SPSS (Version 23 for Windows) and it was used to assess the means, standard deviation of the variables, and confidence interval of means (CI: 95%). Independent t-tests were used to assess gender differences, and the magnitude of the differences was evaluated with effect sizes (Cohen's d). Pearson's correlations between the study variables were performed. A parallel mediation analysis was conducted by using Model 4 of Hayes's (94) Process Macro for SPSS to explore the mediating effect of online communication attitude and relational closeness between the fear of missing out and the problematic SNSs use. The bootstrapping method was used to produce 95% bias-corrected confidence intervals (CI) for the magnitude of these effects based on 1,000 resamples of the data. Based on previous studies (46, 47) we expected the magnitude for the direct effect between FoMO and PSNSU to be medium in effect size. With α = 0.05 and power = 0.80, a sample size to detect a correlation of 0.30 is N = 115 (one-tailed). For the indirect (mediated) effects, we considered empirically-based estimates of sample-sizes needed to detect a mediated effect, presented in Fritz and McKinnon [(95), Table 3]. Assuming direct path coefficients of β = 0.26 and using a bias-corrected bootstrapping method, the estimated sample size to detect a mediated effect with α = 0.05 and power = 0.80 is estimated to be N = 148. Thus, we deem our collected sample to be sufficient to detect the predicted effects.

Results

Descriptive Statistics and Bivariate Correlations

Among the participants, 100% were Caucasian, 37.6% were single and only 4.3% were living alone during the quarantine. Concerning the geographical provenance, 61.9% were from Southern Italy, 23.8% were from Northern Italy, 12.9% were from Central Italy, and 1.4% were from Italian islands. The most used social media were WhatsApp (96.9%), Facebook (85%), Instagram (76.6%), Facebook Messenger (53.6%), and Twitter (16.2%). Before the forced isolation due to COVID-19, 35.3% of the participants reported that they spent 1–2 h/day on SNSs, and only 12.1% spent more than 4 h/day. During the quarantine, the percentage corresponding to 1–2 h/day significantly decreased to 15.4%, and 36.4% of the participants declared that they spent more than 4 h/day social networking [χ(25)2 = 449.16; p < 0.001; phi = 0.96].

Descriptive statistics and gender differences are reported in Table 1. No gender-related statistically significant differences have been found except in h/day spent on SNSs during the COVID-19 pandemic, with women obtaining higher mean scores than men with a moderate effect size.

TABLE 1
www.frontiersin.org

Table 1. Means, standard deviations (SD), t-test, effects sizes (Cohen's d) for both genders, and confidence intervals (CI).

Bivariate correlations between all variables are shown in Table 2. Overall, statistically significant positive correlations were found among Fear of Missing Out, online communication attitudes (i.e., online self-disclosure and online social connection), relational closeness, and problematic social networking sites use, as expected. Moreover, the higher the Fear of Missing Out levels, the higher the hours per day on SNSs during COVID-19 pandemic and problematic social networking sites use.

TABLE 2
www.frontiersin.org

Table 2. Bivariate correlations between all variables estimated with 1,000 bootstrap sample.

Parallel Mediation Analysis

In order to test the direct and indirect effect of Fear of Missing Out on problematic social networking sites use via the online communication attitude and relational closeness, a parallel mediational analysis was conducted. As shown in Table 3, after controlling for participants' gender (females coded as 0, males coded as 1; β = 0.036; p = 0.64, ns), age (β = 0.001; p = 0.87, ns), marital status (single coded as 0, in a relationship coded as 1; β = −0.106; p = 0.18, ns), living alone during the quarantine (no coded as 0, yes coded as 1; β = 0.124; p = 0.53, ns), and the difference between h/day spent on SNSs during and before the COVID-19 pandemic (β = 0.104; p < 0.05), the Fear of Missing Out had a significant direct effect on online self-disclosure (t = 8.208; p < 0.001), online social connection (t = 7.9; p < 0.001), and relational closeness (t = 4.188; p < 0.001). Moreover, self-disclosure and social connection had a significant direct effect on problematic SNSs use (t = 9.39; p < 0.001 and t = 7.842; p < 0.001, respectively), whereas relational closeness did not show a significant effect (t = 0.391; p = 0.70). Finally, the positive and significant direct effect of fear of missing out on problematic social networking (t = 5.943; p < 0.001) increased in magnitude when mediators were included in the model (t = 11.13; p < 0.001). Analysis of the bias-corrected confidence intervals of the indirect effect of Fear of Missing Out on problematic SNSs use in the bootstrapped samples further revealed that the indirect effects via self-disclosure and social connection were significant. The total model accounted for a significant amount of variance in participants' problematic social networking [R2 = 0.54; F(9, 447) = 58.285, p < 0.001].

TABLE 3
www.frontiersin.org

Table 3. Direct and indirect effect of the fear of missing out on problematic SNS use via online communication attitudes and relational closeness.

Discussion

The present study aimed to explore the direct and indirect effect of FoMO on problematic SNS use via individuals' online communication attitude and relational closeness in a sample of Italian adults during the COVID-19 lockdown phase. It has been hypothesized that the use of SNSs would have been grown in this specific circumstance in order to preserve social connections and that FoMO would have been acted as a predictor of PSNSU. Moreover, we hypothesized that this predictive role would have been mediated by the attitude toward online self-disclosure and social connection and by the effect of the relational closeness to others via social interactions. Our results only partially confirmed these hypotheses. As expected, participants declared they spent more time on SNSs during the pandemic, particularly women, thus supporting previous results showing an increase in the hours per day spent using social media during the pandemic (31). Furthermore, our findings are aligned with all the previous results concerning the association between FoMO and PSNSU [e.g., (41, 46)] as FoMO directly predicted PSNSU. However, our results also built upon these previous studies as they highlight that the association remains stable in a period when one of the aspects of the psychological reality that this construct represents (i.e., others' socially rewarding experiences) has been drastically reduced because of the lockdown. The fear of being excluded from what's going on “outside” might have been transferred to what's going on “at home,” in the experience of online social encounters among friends that constituted the only chance to socialize that people had during the pandemic isolation. Moreover, the need for “ego validation” through comparison, which usually underlies individuals' use of social media and their fear of being excluded, might have been high, despite the social restrictions that limited people's behaviors inside their homes. Indeed, comparison, emotional sharing and social encounters have probably been addressed toward what friends were doing at home. Furthermore, we hypothesized that online communication attitudes (i.e., attitudes toward online social connectiveness and self-disclosure as well as the need of relational closeness via online interactions) would have been influenced by the experience of FoMO from the online environment, in times of offline social restrictions, consequently promoting a problematic use of SNSs. Our findings confirmed our hypothesis highlighting the influence that OCA—and particularly online self-disclosure—has in predicting the problematic use of SNSs under these circumstances. The predictive role of online communication attitudes with respect to problematic Internet use had already been highlighted by a previous study (56), but it has not been previously investigated in the context of social media use. Therefore, the current study builds upon previous results by showing that individuals' attitudes to online self-disclosure and social connection is involved in the link between FoMO and PSNSU. Conversely, and unexpectedly, relational closeness across SNSs did not predict individuals' use of SNS. We hypothesized that, during the COVID-19-induced social restrictions, individuals' use of social media would have been increased also because of the need to feel close to friends via online social connections, experiencing emotional closeness to the others and searching for support from close ties (62, 63) during these difficult circumstances. However, the present findings showed the pivotal role of attitudinal variables toward online communication, which seem to strongly predict individuals' development/maintenance of interpersonal relationships via SNSs (57), whereas we did not find a support for the role of relational closeness. Moreover, people's increase in SNS misuse seems to be a reaction to FoMO strengthened by individuals' trait-like attitudes toward online social connections and self-disclosure, more than by individuals' need to experience closeness to the others.

We can assume that the COVID-19 restrictions strengthened individual's use of social media and that those experiencing FoMO tried to regulate their fears by means a massive/problematic SNS use, improved by their preexisting attitudes toward online communication which might be reinforced, on their own, by this specific circumstance of social-distancing. These findings need to be addressed, as they seem to suggest that online communication trait-like attitudes might be a potential risk factor for social media misuse/abuse if linked to a real experience of social isolation and/or a fear of being deprived of the possibility of relatedness with others and of being involved in their experiences. However, further exploration on the association between FoMO and OCA are needed.

Moreover, although SNS use temporarily acted as a useful coping strategy with which to face social isolation (26, 29, 30), their massive use in this specific circumstance could have long-lasting effects on people with high levels of separation anxiety and fears of being excluded, and on those individuals who are more prone to using online communication strategies for connection and self-disclosure. Thus, longitudinal designs are greatly needed to analyze the pandemic's effects on social media use in different populations in greater depth, and the differences and similarities between different cultural contexts should be explored together with age and gender differences. The current study has some limitations that need to be addressed. First, the cross-sectional design limited the ability to formally test the causative effects. Second, the well-known risk of desirability biases due to the use of self-reported measures is also prevailing. Moreover, while considering the risks and the opportunities due to the online data collection (96), this study was conducted during the period of COVID-19 pandemic and specifically focused on individuals' behavior during the lockdown, thus online administration was the only possible and useful data collection among the population. Finally, since the current study refers to individuals' behavior across SNS during the COVID-19 epidemic, we cannot assume that their social media use would have been the same in different conditions. Therefore, our findings cannot be generalized. However, further research should investigate in-depth the influence that individuals' attitudes toward social connectiveness, self-disclosure and relational closeness across SNSs, could have on their use of social media in more regular circumstances. Indeed, within this context online relational closeness neither acted as a predictor nor as a mediator of problematic SNS use, although this feature is still little studied. Further research could explore the role that experiencing intimacy and emotional closeness across SNSs might have on a non-problematic use of social media, taking into account cultural, gender and age differences. Despite these limitations, the current findings have some theoretical and clinical implications. They built upon previous results regarding the effect of FoMO levels on PSNUS by showing that the usefulness of SNSs to regulate this specific fear remains stable during the experience of isolation and separation. Accordingly, this association between FoMO and PSNSU deserves clinical interest, especially considering the unexplored role of OCA in this relationship. Indeed, further exploration is needed on the role of online communication as a trait-like attitude potentially influencing individuals' unregulated use of social media. This study suggests deepening the risks related to the connection between the experience of FoMO and online self-disclosure and social connection. The fear to be excluded/invisible and the consistent urgency to become visible within the media environment should be carefully questioned also relating to identity developmental issues, as they both might widely affect online social encounters and promote dangerous individuals' hyper-self-disclosure or false self-presentation.

Data Availability Statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Ethics Statement

The studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by Ethical Committee of Psychological Research - Department of Humanities University of Naples Federico II. The patients/participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study.

Author Contributions

VB designed the study and contributed to writing a first draft of the manuscript. FG contributed to data collection, statistical analysis, and contributed to writing the first draft of the manuscript. GF contributed to developing methodology and statistical analysis. SC revised the whole work critically for important intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final version of the work.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

References

1. Holmes EA, O'Connor RC, Perry VH, Tracey I, Wessely S, Arseneault L, et al. Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for action for mental health science. Lancet Psychiatry. (2020) 7:547–60. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30168-1

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

2. Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, Woodland L, Weissley S, Greenberg N, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet. (2020) 395:912–20. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

3. Parola A, Rossi A, Tessitore F, Troisi G, Mannarini S. Mental health through the COVID-19 quarantine: a growth curve analysis on Italian young adults. Front Psychol. (2020) 11:567484. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567484

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

4. Krishnamoorthy Y, Nagarajan R, Saya GK, Menon V. Prevalence of psychological morbidities among general population, healthcare workers and COVID-19 patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res. (2020) 293:113382. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113382

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

5. Aquila I, Sacco MA, Ricci C, Gratteri S, Montebianco Abenavoli L, Oliva A, et al. The role of the COVID-19 pandemic as a risk factor for suicide: what is its impact on the public mental health state today? Psychol Trauma Theory Res Pract Policy. (2020) 12:S120–2. doi: 10.1037/tra0000616

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

6. Dsouza DD, Quadros S, Hyderabadwala ZJ, Mamun MA. Aggregated COVID-19 suicide incidences in India: fear of COVID-19 infection is the prominent causative factor. Psychiatry Res. (2020) 290:113145. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113145

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

7. Goyal K, Chauhan P, Chhikara K, Gupta P, Singh MP. Fear of COVID 2019: first suicidal case in India!. Asian J Psychiatry. (2020) 49:101989. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2020.101989

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

8. Schimmenti A, Billieux J, Starcevic V. The four horsemen of fear: an integrated model of understanding fear experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clin Neuropsychiatry. (2020) 17:41–5. doi: 10.36131/CN20200202

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

9. Schimmenti A, Starcevic V, Giardina A, Khazaal Y, Billieux J. Multidimensional Assessment of COVID-19-Related Fears (MAC-RF): a theory-based instrument for the assessment of clinically relevant fears during pandemics. Front Psychiatry. (2020) 11:748. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00748

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

10. Casale S, Flett GL. Interpersonally-based fears during the COVID-19 pandemic: reflections on the fear of missing out and the fear of not mattering constructs. Clin Neuropsychiatry. (2020) 17:88–93. doi: 10.36131/CN20200211

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

11. Schachter S. The Psychology of Affiliation: Experimental Studies of the Sources of Gregariousness. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press (1959).

Google Scholar

12. Braunack-Mayer A, Tooher R, Collins JE, Street JM, Marshall H. Understanding the school community's response to school closures during the H1N1 2009 influenza pandemic. BMC Public Health. (2013) 13:344. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-344

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

13. Reynolds DL, Garay JR, Deamond SL, Moran MK, Gold W, Styra R. Understanding, compliance and psychological impact of the SARS quarantine experience. Epidemiol Infect. (2008) 136:997–1007. doi: 10.1017/S0950268807009156

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

14. Wilken JA, Pordell P, Goode B, Jarteh R, Miller Z, Saygar BG, et al. Knowledge, attitudes, and practices among members of households actively monitored or quarantined to prevent transmission of Ebola Virus Disease—Margibi County, Liberia: February-March 2015. Prehosp Disaster Med. (2017) 32:673–8. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X17006720

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

15. Roma P, Monaro M, Colasanti M, Ricci E, Biondi S, Di Domenico A, et al. A 2-month follow-up study of psychological distress among Italian People during the COVID-19 Lockdown. Int J Environ Res Public Health. (2020) 17:8180. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17218180

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

16. Wiederhold BK. Social media use during social distancing. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. (2020) 23:275–6. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2020.29181.bkw

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

17. Boursier V, Manna V, Gioia F, Coppola F, Venosa N. Cyber-moms facing motherhood: holding functions and regressive movements in parenting websites. In: Global Perspectives on Health Communication in the Age of Social Media. Hershey, PA: IGI Global (2018). p. 29–58.

Google Scholar

18. Boursier V, Gioia F, Coppola F, Schimmenti A. Digital storytellers: parents facing with children's autism in an Italian web forum. Mediterranean J Clin Psychol. (2019) 7:1–22. doi: 10.6092/2282-1619/2019.7.2104

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

19. Casale S, Fioravanti G, Flett GL, Hewitt PL. From socially prescribed perfectionism to problematic use of internet communicative services: the mediating roles of perceived social support and the fear of negative evaluation. Addict Behav. (2014) 39:1816–22. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.06.006

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

20. Van den Eijnden RJ, Meerkerk GJ, Vermulst AA, Spijkerman R, Engels RC. Online communication, compulsive Internet use, and psychosocial well-being among adolescents: a longitudinal study. Dev Psychol. (2008) 44:655–65. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.44.3.655

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

21. Wiederhold BK, Riva G. Positive technology supports shift to preventive, integrative health. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2012) 15:67–8. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.1533

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

22. Riva G, Baños RM, Botella C, Wiederhold BK, Gaggioli A. Positive technology: using interactive technologies to promote positive functioning. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2012) 15:69–77. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0139

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

23. Banerjee D, Rai M. Social isolation in Covid-19: the impact of loneliness. Int J Soc Psychiatry. (2020) 66:525–27. doi: 10.1177/0020764020922269

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

24. Riva G, Mantovani F, Wiederhold BK. Positive technology and COVID-19. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2020) 23:581–7. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2020.29194.gri

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

25. Riva G, Wiederhold BK. How cyberpsychology and virtual reality can help us to overcome the psychological burden of coronavirus. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2020) 23:277–9. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2020.29183.gri

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

26. Wiederhold BK. Using social media to our advantage: alleviating anxiety during a pandemic. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2020) 23:197–8. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2020.29180.bkw

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

27. King DL, Delfabbro PH, Billieux J, Potenza MN. Problematic online gaming and the COVID-19 pandemic. J Behav Addictions. (2020) 9:184–6. doi: 10.1556/2006.2020.00016

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

28. Mamun MA, Ullah I, Usman N, Griffiths MD. PUBG-related suicides during the COVID-19 pandemic: three cases from pakistan. Perspect Psychiatric Care. (2020). doi: 10.1111/ppc.12640. [Epub ahead of print].

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

29. Kiràly O, Potenza MN, Stein DJ, King DL, Hodgins DC, Saunders JB, et al. Preventing problematic Internet use during the COVID-19 pandemic: consensus guidance. Comprehens Psychiatry. (2020) 100:152180. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2020.152180

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

30. Musetti A, Corsano P, Boursier V, Schimmenti A. Problematic Internet use in lonely adolescents: the mediating role of detachment from parents. Clin Neuropsychiatry. (2020) 17:3–10.

Google Scholar

31. Boursier V, Gioia F, Musetti A, Schimmenti A. Facing loneliness and anxiety during the COVID-19 isolation: the role of excessive social media use in a sample of Italian adults. Front Psychiatry. (2020) 11:586222. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.586222

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

32. Singh RP, Javaid M, Haleem A, Suman R. Internet of things (IoT) applications to fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Diab Metab Syndr. (2020) 14:521–4. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2020.04.041

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

33. Kargin M, Türkben Polat H, Coşkun Simşek D. Evaluation of internet addiction and fear of missing out among nursing students. Perspect Psychiatric Care. (2020) 56:726–31. doi: 10.1111/ppc.12488

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

34. Starcevic V, Billieux J. Does the construct of internet addiction reflect a single entity or a spectrum of disorders? Clin Neuropsychiatry. (2017) 14:5–10.

Google Scholar

35. Starcevic V, Aboujaoude E. Internet addiction: reappraisal of an increasingly inadequate concept. CNS Spectrums. (2017) 22:7–13. doi: 10.1017/S1092852915000863

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

36. Griffiths MD. Social networking addiction: emerging themes and issues. J Addiction Res Ther. (2013) 4:e118. doi: 10.4172/2155-6105.1000e118

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

37. Schimmenti A, Caretti V, La Barbera D. Internet gaming disorder or internet addiction? A plea for conceptual clarity. Clin Neuropsychiatry. (2014) 11:145–6.

Google Scholar

38. Tonioni F, Mazza M, Autullo G, Cappelluti R, Catalano V, Marano G, et al. Is internet addiction a psychopathological condition distinct from pathological gambling? Addict Behav. (2014) 39:1052–6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.02.016

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

39. Andreassen CS, Pallesen S. Social network site addiction-an overview. Curr Pharmaceutical Design. (2014) 20:4053–61. doi: 10.2174/13816128113199990616

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

40. Alt D. College students' academic motivation, media engagement and fear of missing out. Comput Hum Behav. (2015) 49:111–9. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.02.057

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

41. Blackwell D, Leaman C, Tramposch R, Osborne C, Liss M. Extraversion, neuroticism, attachment style and fear of missing out as predictors of social media use and addiction. Personal Individual Differ. (2017) 116:69–72. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.039

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

42. Gioia F, Griffiths MD, Boursier V. Adolescents' body shame and social networking sites: the mediating effect of body image control in photos. Sex Roles. (2020) 83:1–13. doi: 10.1007/s11199-020-01142-0

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

43. Wolniewicz CA, Tiamiyu MF, Weeks JW, Elhai JD. Problematic smartphone use and relations with negative affect, fear of missing out, and fear of negative and positive evaluation. Psychiatry Res. (2018) 262:618–23. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.09.058

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

44. Balta S, Emirtekin E, Kircaburun K, Griffiths MD. Neuroticism, trait fear of missing out, and phubbing: The mediating role of state fear of missing out and problematic Instagram use. Int J Mental Health Addict. (2020) 18:628–39. doi: 10.1007/s11469-018-9959-8

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

45. Beyens I, Frison E, Eggermont S. “I don't want to miss a thing”: Adolescents' fear of missing out and its relationship to adolescents' social needs, Facebook use, and Facebook related stress. Comp Hum Behav. (2016) 64:1–8. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.083

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

46. Dempsey AE, O'Brien KD, Tiamiyu MF, Elhai JD. Fear of missing out (FOMO) and rumination mediate relations between social anxiety and problematic Facebook use. Addict Behav Rep. (2019) 9:100150. doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2018.100150

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

47. Oberst U, Wegmann E, Stodt B, Brand M, Chamarro A. Negative consequences from heavy social networking in adolescents: the mediating role of fear of missing out. J Adolesc. (2017) 55:51–60. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.12.008

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

48. Casale S, Fioravanti G. Factor structure and psychometric properties of the Italian version of the fear of missing out scale in emerging adults and adolescents. Addict Behav. (2020) 102:106179. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106179

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

49. Burhamah W, AlKhayyat A, Oroszlányová M, AlKenane A, Almansouri A, Almansouri A, et al. The psychological burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures: experience from 4000 participants. J Affect Disord. (2020) 277:977–85. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.014

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

50. Luppicini R. Review of computer mediated communication research for education. Instruction Sci. (2007) 35:141–85. doi: 10.1007/s11251-006-9001-6

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

51. Romiszowski A, Mason R. Computer-mediated communication. Handb Res Educ Commun Technol. (1996) 2:397–431.

Google Scholar

52. Yao MZ, Ling R. “What Is computer-mediated communication?”- an introduction to the special issue. J Comput Mediated Commun. (2020) 25:4–8. doi: 10.1093/jcmc/zmz027

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

53. Walther JB. Theories of computer-mediated communication and interpersonal relations. Handb Interpersonal Commun. (2011) 4:443–79.

Google Scholar

54. Ledbetter AM. Measuring online communication attitude: instrument development and validation. Commun Monogr. (2009) 76:463–86. doi: 10.1080/03637750903300262

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

55. Ledbetter AM, Mazer JP, DeGroot JM, Meyer KR, Mao Y, Swafford B. Attitudes toward online social connection and self-disclosure as predictors of Facebook communication and relational closeness. Commun Res. (2011) 38:27–53. doi: 10.1177/0093650210365537

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

56. Mazer JP, Ledbetter AM. Online communication attitudes as predictors of problematic Internet use and well-being outcomes. Southern Commun J. (2012) 77:403–19. doi: 10.1080/1041794X.2012.686558

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

57. Krishnan A, Hunt DS. Influence of a multidimensional measure of attitudes on motives to use social networking sites. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2015) 18:165–72. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2014.0423

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

58. Vangelisti AL, Caughlin JP. Revealing family secrets: the influence of topic, function, and relationships. J Soc Personal Relations. (1997) 14:679–705. doi: 10.1177/0265407597145006

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

59. Aron AP, Mashek DJ, Aron EN. Closeness as including other in the self. In: Mashek DJ, Aron A, editors. Handbook of Closeness and Intimacy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum (2004). p. 27–41.

PubMed Abstract | Google Scholar

60. Rains SA, Keating DM. The social dimension of blogging about health: health blogging, social support, and well-being. Commun Monogr. (2011) 78:511–34. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2011.618142

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

61. Wright KB, Miller CH. A measure of weak-tie/strong-tie support network preference. Commun Monogr. (2010) 77:500–17. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2010.502538

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

62. Kramer NC, Rösner L, Eimler SC, Winter S, Neubaum G. Let the weakest link go! Empirical explorations on the relative importance of weak and strong ties on social networking sites. Societies. (2014) 4:785–809. doi: 10.3390/soc4040785

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

63. Rozzell B, Piercy CW, Carr CT, King S, Lane BL, Tornes M, et al. Notification pending: online social support from close and nonclose relational ties via Facebook. Comput Hum Behav. (2014) 38:272–80. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2014.06.006

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

64. Shapiro LAS, Margolin G. Growing up wired: social networking sites and adolescent psychosocial development. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev. (2014) 17:1–18. doi: 10.1007/s10567-013-0135-1

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

65. Baym NK, Ledbetter A. Tunes that bind? Predicting friendship strength in a music-based social network. Information Commun Soc. (2009) 12:408–27. doi: 10.1080/13691180802635430

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

66. Boursier V, Gioia F, Griffiths MD. Do selfie-expectancies and social appearance anxiety predict adolescents' problematic social media use? Comput Hum Behav. (2020) 110:106395. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2020.106395

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

67. Caplan SE. A social skill account of problematic Internet use. J Commun. (2005) 55:721–36. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2005.tb03019.x

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

68. Caplan SE, High AC. Online social interaction, psychosocial well-being, problematic Internet use. In: Young KS, de Abreu CN, editors. Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2011). p. 35–53.

PubMed Abstract | Google Scholar

69. Morahan-Martin J. Internet use and abuse and psychological problems. In: Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2007). p. 331–45.

Google Scholar

70. Boursier V, Gioia F, Griffiths MD. Objectified body consciousness, body image control in photos, and problematic social networking: the role of appearance control beliefs. Front Psychol. (2020) 11:147. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00147

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

71. D'Arienzo MC, Boursier V, Griffiths MD. Addiction to social media and attachment styles: a systematic literature review. Int J Mental Health Addict. (2019) 17:1094–118. doi: 10.1007/s11469-019-00082-5

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

72. Ellison NB, Steinfield C, Lampe C. The benefits of Facebook “friends:” social capital and college students' use of online social network sites. J Comput Mediated Commun. (2007) 12:1143–68. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

73. Quan-Haase A. University students' local and distant social ties: using and integrating modes of communication on campus. Information Commun Soc. (2007) 10:671–93. doi: 10.1080/13691180701658020

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

74. Kraut R, Patterson M, Lundmark V, Kiesler S, Mukophadhyay T, Scherlis W. Internet paradox: a social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? Am Psychol. (1998) 53:1017. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.53.9.1017

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

75. Nie NH, Hillygus DS, Erbring L. (2002) Internet use, interpersonal relations, and sociability. In Wellman B, Haythornthwaite C, editors. The Internet in Everyday Life. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. (2002). p. 215–243. doi: 10.1002/9780470774298

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

76. Tilsner J. Overrated: social networking can't replace a face to face. WalletPop. (2008). Available online at: http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2008/09/15/overrated-in-america-social-networking

Google Scholar

77. Bonetti L, Campbell MA, Gilmore L. The relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children's and adolescents' online communication. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2010) 13:279–85. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2009.0215

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

78. Gioia F, Boursier V. Emotion dysregulation adolescents' preference for online social interactions: the moderating role of gender. Psychobit. (2019). Available online at: http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-2524/paper23.pdf

Google Scholar

79. Tonioni F, Mazza M, Autullo G, Pellicano GR, Aceto P, Catalano V, et al. Socio-emotional ability, temperament and coping strategies associated with different use of Internet in Internet addiction. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. (2018) 22:3461–6. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_201806_15171

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

80. Caplan SE. Preference for online social interaction: a theory of problematic Internet use and psychosocial well-being. Commun Res. (2003) 30:625–48. doi: 10.1177/0093650203257842

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

81. Caplan SE. Relations among loneliness, social anxiety, and problematic Internet use. Cyberpsychol Behav. (2007) 10:234–42. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9963

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

82. McKenna KY, Green AS, Gleason ME. Relationship formation on the Internet: what's the big attraction? J Soc Issues. (2002) 58:9–31. doi: 10.1111/1540-4560.00246

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

83. Denker KJ, Manning J, Heuett KB, Summers ME. Twitter in the classroom: modeling online communication attitudes and student motivations to connect. Comput Hum Behav. (2018) 79:1–8. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2017.09.037

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

84. Casale S, Fiovaranti G, Caplan S. Online disinhibition. J Media Psychol. (2015) 27:170–7. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000136

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

85. Gross EF. Adolescent Internet use: what we expect, what teens report. J Appl Dev Psychol. (2004) 25:633–49. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2004.09.005

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

86. Tufekci Z. Can you see me now? Audience and disclosure regulation in online social network sites. Bull Sci Technol Soc. (2008) 28:20–36. doi: 10.1177/0270467607311484

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

87. Valkenburg PM, Peter J. Online communication among adolescents: an integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. J Adolesc Health. (2011) 48:121–7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.08.020

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

88. Przybylski AK, Murayama K, DeHaan CR, Gladwell V. Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Comput Hum Behav. (2013) 29:1841–8. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

89. Ferrara F. The construction of boundaries in the digital age. An exploratory study on the new relationships within the social networking sites use (Unpublished thesis dissertation) (2019).

Google Scholar

90. Fioravanti G, Primi C, Casale S. Psychometric evaluation of the generalized problematic internet use scale 2 in an Italian sample. Cyberpsychol Behav Social Netw. (2013) 16:761–6. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0429

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

91. Caplan SE. Theory and measurement of generalized problematic Internet use: a two-step approach. Comput Hum Behav. (2010) 26:1089–97. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.012

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

92. Fioravanti G, Flett G, Hewitt P, Rugai L, Casale S. How maladaptive cognitions contribute to the development of problematic social media use. Addict Behav Rep. (2020) 11:10026. doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2020.100267

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

93. Casale S, Fioravanti G. Shame experiences and problematic social networking sites use: an unexplored association. Clin Neuropsychiatry. (2017) 14:44–8.

Google Scholar

94. Hayes AF. Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression-Based Approach. New York, NY: Guilford Publications (2017).

Google Scholar

95. Fritz MS, Mackinnon DP. Required sample size to detect the mediated effect. Psychol Sci. (2007) 18:233–9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01882.x

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

96. Kraut R, Olson J, Banaji M, Bruckman A, Cohen J, Couper M. Psychological research online: report of Board of Scientific Affairs' Advisory Group on the Conduct of Research on the Internet. Am Psychol. (2004) 59:105–17. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.59.2.105

PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

Keywords: COVID-19, fear of missing out, online communication attitude, problematic social networking sites use, relational closeness

Citation: Gioia F, Fioravanti G, Casale S and Boursier V (2021) The Effects of the Fear of Missing Out on People's Social Networking Sites Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Mediating Role of Online Relational Closeness and Individuals' Online Communication Attitude. Front. Psychiatry 12:620442. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.620442

Received: 22 October 2020; Accepted: 28 January 2021;
Published: 18 February 2021.

Edited by:

Giuseppe Bersani, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Reviewed by:

Marianna Mazza, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Italy
Emilien Jeannot, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Switzerland
Mohammed A. Mamun, Centre for Health Innovation, Networking, Training, Action and Research - Bangladesh, Bangladesh
Paolo Roma, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
Cristina Mazza, University of Studies G. d'Annunzio Chieti and Pescara, Italy

Copyright © 2021 Gioia, Fioravanti, Casale and Boursier. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Valentina Boursier, valentina.boursier@unina.it