Impact of Academic-Related Peer Influence and Fear of Missing Out From Social Media on Academic Activities of Adolescents

Thi Thuy An Ngo, Ngoc Thien An Nguyen, Nhu Uyen La, Nhi Dong Truong, Hoang Quoc Bao Nguyen
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 22  •  2023  •  pp. 527-555

The main objective of this study is to explore the relationships among social media experience processes, peer influence, and fear of missing out (FoMO), as well as their impact on adolescent students’ choice of participation in academic activities.

The increasing digitization of the world has consolidated social media as a dominant means of communication in the modern era. Adolescents are heavily engaged with smartphones and social platforms, resulting in substantial exposure to their influences. This exposure leads to a rise in sharing academic achievements and experiences on social media platforms. This trend has transformed academic success into a symbol of admiration, affecting how young individuals perceive their educational activities. During adolescence, a phase characterized by heightened vulnerability and intense social connections, young people become more susceptible to phenomena such as peer influence and FoMO. Social media, serving as a platform to showcase experiences and achievements, plays a pivotal role in shaping peer norms that subsequently impact peer influence and FoMO. Given the significant interplay between social media, peer influence, and FoMO, there is a need to explore whether social media experiences can predict academic-related peer influence and FoMO, as well as understand their interrelationships. This exploration is essential for understanding the cumulative impact of these factors on students’ academic pursuits. These insights hold the potential to guide the effective management of the potentially excessive effects of social media, thus promoting a more balanced and productive student life when confronting contemporary challenges.

The study employed a quantitative approach, using 5-point Likert scales to collect data via an online survey. The questionnaire was designed based on the theoretical framework regarding transformations of peer experiences in social media contexts developed by Nesi and co-researchers, which mainly interpreted the characterization of social media and how its features could amplify or alter the formation of Peer Influence and FoMO. The data from 419 valid responses from secondary and high school students in Vietnam were analyzed using reliability tests, factor analysis methods, and structural equation modeling (SEM) methods.

This research is meaningful in raising awareness of researchers, students, teachers, and parents about the vigorous impacts of social media on students’ academic activities and serves as the foundation for further research on regulation methods to secure healthy social media use and academic development.

It was found that social media was characterized by two latent variables: Online Peer Norms and Novel Peer Experiences. The results showed that both factors were strong predictors of peer influence, while for FoMO, only the variable of Online Peer Norms was a significant predictor. FoMO was found to mediate the impact of social media experience on peer influence. Finally, peer influence relatively affected students’ participation in academic activities, while FoMO did not.

The results suggested that social media can be a means to encourage positive academic participation and, thus, can be utilized in spreading educational programs and promoting academic motivation. At the same time, measures to counteract academic pressure should also take social media into consideration.

Researchers can utilize the framework of this study to investigate other adolescent media-related mental and behavioral phenomena as well. In addition, researchers should build a clearer understanding of FoMO’s interactions with academic matters.

Social media can either be a great assistance or a huge risk to the development of future generations of society. It is capable of spurring mental and behavioral changes that can radically impact youths’ growth on their educational paths.

The relationship between peer influence and FoMO should be delved into from more diverse dimensions. Future research should encompass peer influence and social media’s involvement in academic self-concepts and well-being.

adolescents, social media, peer influence, fear of missing out, academic activity
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