Study finds young people follow influencers out of ‘fear of missing out’

By Majd Othman

KUWAIT: Associate Professor at Kuwait University’s Department of Media Fatima Al-Salem conducted a study that showed that following influencers on social media has repercussions on the mental health of their followers, especially young people.

The study, which was based on the theory of social comparison and the case of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), aimed to understand the social and psychological effects on young people who follow influencers on social media, and showed the impact of their psychological states on the extent of their daily use of social media apps.

Al-Salem’s study chose a sample of 4,275 young Kuwaiti people, and the results showed a strong statistical correlation between the psychological state variable and its impact on FOMO. The worse the psychological state, the higher is the feeling of fear of losing opportunities, according to the study.

The study recommended conducting more follow up studies that focus on the psychological and social effects of using social media apps on young people, in addition to conducting studies aimed at explaining the differences in social comparisons and “FOMO” among young people and other groups. The study called for educating young people and making them aware of the dangers of extensive use of social media networks, through media education and awareness campaigns.

New trends

Maryam Hussain follows influencers from all over the world and keeps herself updated with the new trends in the fashion industry. She told Kuwait Times that her spending budget increased more than 40 percent in recent years on cloth, make-up, accessories, and other luxuries.

“Influencers are affecting our purchasing decisions unconsciously. However, the availability of products in the market and continuous offers and discounts in the shopping centers and online stores encourage us to increase our buying,” she said. “Despite most followers knowing that the life of those influencers is not completely real, they like the idea of living this style of life.”

“Coming from a person who used to get influenced easily, getting influencers talking about products and highlighting the extravagant bits of their lifestyle was overwhelming,” she added.

Meanwhile, Nada Saleh said “I had managed to escape the cycle by acknowledging that the lives influencers claimed were real on their stories isn’t the reality in its full picture. Keeping that in mind, I got more into focusing on myself and my mindset to become fully aware of my capabilities and strengths.”

Level of trust

Nahla Omar mentioned that following social media influencers and getting affected by them depends on the level of trust between the follower and what the influencer offers. “If the influencer recommends products that are over the budget or it turns out later that the products they offer are not good as what they said, the followers will not get affected by them later,” she said. “However, they will stay following them to be updated about the latest trends in fashion or other new lifestyle trends, fearing of missing out on what’s new.”

“Some influencers know how to affect their followers to buy the products they recommend,” she added. “As for me, if I bought a product recommended by an influencer and like it, in the future, I will buy what this influencer advise for me.”

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