There’s something emerging in the mobile world that every parent must know about to protect the emotional well-being of their child.

Social Media Anxiety Disorder is on the increase with many teenagers confessing to ‘being lost without their phone’ and admitting to checking it within a few minutes of waking up each morning (not to mention the average of 134 times during the day)!

The concerning issue is around young people’s FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), the perpetual trap of missing something. Missing a great post, missing some ‘exclusive’ news one of their ‘friends’ shared and they don’t want to be the last to know. This has created an unhealthy obsession leaving young people stressed, exhausted because of poor sleep quality and more prone to mind based issues.

Too much importance placed on socialising online can result in what I refer to as the Triple-A effect: Attention, Approval and Acceptance. Gaining likes, followers and comments can deliver a momentary boost for young people, but this only provides a false sense of endorsement that feeds the ego for a moment before the next wave of approval must be gained, creating a perpetual spiral of emotions. As a result, people resort to sharing more daring and often untrue information, to gain the acceptance on social media that they’re not able to receive in the real world.

A study presented at a British Psychological Society conference in Manchester by researchers, Dr Heather Cleland Woods and Holly Scott of the University of Glasgow. They provided questionnaires for 467 teenagers regarding their overall and night-time specific social media use. A further set of tests measured sleep quality, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and emotional investment in social media which relates to the pressure felt to be available 24/7 and the anxiety around, for example, not responding immediately to texts or posts

Dr Cleland Woods explained: “Adolescence can be a period of increased vulnerability for the onset of depression and anxiety, and poor sleep quality may contribute to this. It is important that we understand how social media use relates to these. Evidence is increasingly supporting a link between social media use and wellbeing, particularly during adolescence, but the causes of this are unclear”.

Addicted Pupils

And a surprising connection to the rise in anxiety and emotional issues in the classroom is pupils’ nomophobia ~ the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

The mind quickly becomes consumed with fear and panic displaying physical manifestations such as panic attacks, shortness of breath, dizziness, shakes and even fainting.

The importance young people place on their mobile to the point of addiction and the extreme anxiety felt being without it was further highlighted in the ‘Sara Cox on Friendship’. The insightful W Channel documentary about the personal impact of technology and what it means to be a ‘friend’ in the 21st century.

This also revealed that with so much reliance on their mobile, teens quickly lose other essential skills like initiative to work out where their friends are hanging out in college or resilience to adapt to things changing.

So if your teenager is in danger of ‘text-neck’, FOMO and nomophobia then time for a mini digital detox to help them appreciate there are still many real-world experiences they need to manage emotional wellbeing.