You are probably familiar with many of the names such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. It is very likely you use one or more of them on a regular basis, possibly several times per day. Keeping up with friends, sharing kids’ pictures with distant family, or even communicating with loved ones serving in the military have all been made infinitely easier by the advent of social networking sites. Unfortunately, there may be a downside to the social media information explosion. Evidence is starting to emerge which may show a link between social network users and an increased divorce rate.
Researchers from Boston University and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile published a study this summer entitled Computers in Human Behavior which examined social networking use in the United States and possible links to marital quality and divorce. They also compared divorce rates and reported Facebook use of 43 separate states. After adjusting for certain economic and socio-demographic factors, the study showed that social network use tended to correlate with “a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce.” Likewise, states with higher Facebook use reported a markedly increase in divorce rates.
Social Network Sites and Marital Quality
Committed, long-term relationships require certain characteristics in order to be successful including respect, admiration, sexual attraction, intimacy, and fidelity. Influences that begin to eat away at the relationship’s foundation should be cause for great concern. The study identified several such negative influences among social network users who are online excessively. Increased use was found to contribute to feelings of neglect, jealousy, and suspicion by their partner, while many social networking sites essentially helped facilitate physical infidelity. Unsurprisingly, divorce rates increase when relationships are affected this way.
Facebook and Divorce Rates
With over a billion users, Facebook is by far the largest social networking site in the world and the researchers wanted to explore possible link between Facebook use and divorce rates on a state level. The study concluded that as Facebook usage rates increased in each state, the divorce rate also increased by a fairly predictable percentage, enough to be considered “statistically significant.” Importantly, though, the research team points out that while the study established that the rates are related, the findings should not be necessarily interpreted as a “causal effect.” While other factors certainly play a role, more research is needed and is likely forthcoming from a number of sources. As modern social media just now enters its second decade, relational studies are only just beginning.
If you live in Illinois and your spouse’s social network habits are causing you to consider divorce, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. We can help you explore your options, navigate the legal system, and simplify the divorce process.