The closure of schools and other educational institutes around the world has been one of the consequences of the COVID-19 and has resulted in online teaching. To facilitate online teaching, there has been an increase in the use of smartphones and tablets among adolescents. However, such enhancement in technology use may put many adolescents at the risk of problematic use of social media. Consequently, the present study explored the direct relationship of psychological distress with social media addiction. The relationship between the two was also assessed indirectly via the fear of missing out (FoMO) and boredom proneness.
A cross-sectional online survey was conducted with 505 Indian adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, studying in grades 7 to 12. Standardized tools (with some modifications to suit the context of the present study) were used to collect data.
The results showed significant positive associations between psychological distress, social media addiction, FoMO, and boredom proneness. Psychological distress was found to be a significant predictor of social media addiction. Moreover, FoMO and boredom proneness partially mediated the relationships between psychological distress and social media addiction.
The present study is the first to provide evidence for the specific pathways of FoMO and boredom proneness in the relationships between psychological distress and social media addiction.