Are Facebook users destined to divorce?

The Internet and rise of social media websites have forever changed the way people communicate and share information. Today, it’s easier than ever to reunite with an old friend or flame via a social media website. Many of these sites also provide opportunities to network and forge new friendships and relationships. Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most well known and widely used social media websites in the world.

By the end of 2013, worldwide an estimated 1.23 billion people had a Facebook account. The fact that so many people use the social media site recently prompted researchers at Boston University to study possible correlations between Facebook use and marital happiness.

For the study, researchers reviewed data from married individuals in 43 U.S. states. When comparing divorce rates against the number of Facebook users, researchers determined that a 20 percent increase in Facebook users corresponded to a 2.18 percent increase in a state’s divorce rate.

Survey results also point to a direct link between frequent Facebook usage and decreased marital happiness. While 32 percent of heavy Facebook users admitted to contemplating divorce, only 16 percent of spouses who didn’t use Facebook reported the same.

Of course the study’s findings don’t necessarily mean that the marriages of all Facebook users are doomed. Rather, researchers point to a belief that Facebook provides spouses where are already unhappy with more opportunities to connect with others including possible love interests. Additionally, Facebook and other similar social media websites may serve as an escape for unhappy spouses thereby explaining the reported heavy usage.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in 2010 divorce attorneys relayed that social media use was a named factor in more than 80 percent of divorce cases since 2005. When contemplating or going through a divorce, it’s important to remember that anything and everything that is posted on a social media website can be retrieved and used as evidence in a divorce or child custody case. Individuals, therefore, are advised to show restraint and consider taking a break from these types of websites to protect themselves and their children.

Source: Computers in Human Behavior, “Social network sites, marriage well-being and divorce: Survey and state-level evidence from the United States,” July 2014

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