FOMO a major cause of anxiety among HK teens, and many have trouble choosing a career, survey shows

FOMO a major cause of anxiety among HK teens, and many have trouble choosing a career, survey shows

The survey, commissioned by youth policy think tank MWYO, found the fear of missing out is a big concern among Hong Kong's youth

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Modern society being a 'wired in' one might be causing information anxiety.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

Almost half of the city’s secondary and tertiary students say they worry about lagging behind socially due to missing out on information from their peers, a survey by a youth policy think tank has found.

The survey, commissioned by MWYO, aimed to find out personal perceptions of quality of life, psychological well-being, and career and life planning among students aged 15 to 24.

A total of 2,040 questionnaires were collected during interviews conducted from September to October last year.

As an index of “well-being”, the survey measured so-called fear of missing out (Fomo), an anxiety characterised by a continuous need to be connected with the activities of friends or others.

The students were asked to give their approval or disapproval to 10 statements in the questionnaire. It was found that an average of 45.3 per cent of the students said the statements applied to them.

Three of the statements which earned the largest approval rates were: “To be able to understand the punchlines in jokes from friends is very important to me” (65.7 per cent); “To share the details online when I am having fun is very important to me” (64 per cent); and “I will keep paying attention to what my friends are doing when I am on holiday” (57.3 per cent).

Additionally, the survey found that Fomo issues in female students appeared to be more apparent than in their male peers. The anxiety was also found to grow deeper with age.

The think tank, founded by Lau Ming-wai, vice-chairman of the Youth Development Commission, concluded the findings showed there was much anxiety among students about missing out on knowing about things and the situation merited public attention.

Lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun said information anxiety was a product of the internet era and was set to become worse.
Photo: K.Y. Cheng/SCMP

Welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, who is also a social worker, said information anxiety was a product of the internet era and it was observed not just in young people but also in adults. Youngsters were heavy users of the internet and social media and therefore the issue appeared to be evident among them.

“The situation will get worse because mobile phones are taking over more and more of everyday life with their increasing capacity to handle different functions,” Shiu said.

The survey, conducted by market research firm Ipsos, also found that students felt that choosing a career was quite difficult, as indicated by the average point of 6.05 on a scale of one to 10.

The major factors cited were “insufficient preparation”, insufficient information” and “inconsistent information”.


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