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Have you ever felt like Facebook and other social media sites are having a negative impact on your life, and in particular your relationship? Well your thinking may be correct, and you’re likely not alone in that feeling.
A newly released study conducted by researchers at Boston University has some surprising findings for people who are both in a relationship and also avid social media users.
According to the BU study, during the years of 2008 through 2010, there was a significant increase in the number of people using Facebook, and during that same time period researchers claim the divorce rate also increased at a rate of two percent.
The study was published in Computers in Human Behavior, and according to the author, while it may seem surprising that something as seemingly innocent and insignificant as a Facebook profile could be such a major driver of human behavior, the researchers feel that it does indeed have an impact.
In every model analyzed by researchers, there was a link between the usage of social media and marital dissatisfaction. While the research didn’t prove the causality of the two factors, they suggest this will be explored in later research.
The state analyses included with the publication of the research showed a 20 percent annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with divorce rates that increased anywhere from 2.18 percent, up to 4.32 percent. The variance was dependent on the model used by researchers. The individual survey model demonstrated a person who doesn’t use social media is about 11 percent more satisfied with his or her marriage, on average, when compared to someone who engages in frequent or heavy Facebook usage.
The researchers laid out several possible explanations they see for the correlation between Facebook and marital troubles, including the fact that social media users may utilize social media to create a support system for their marital woes, which serves as an explanation for their heavy usage. Researchers also considered the idea that Facebook and social media sites can create an environment for jealousy, and can make it easier to begin or carry on an extra-marital affair.
Research like this, and other similar findings that have come to light in recent years are even leading some couples to consider “social media prenups,” which means they’re included clauses specifically directed at social media usage in their prenuptial agreements. Some of these clauses lay out provisions for financial penalties for spouses who post embarrassing, derogatory or professionally damaging content on to social media accounts.
Regardless of whether or not Facebook is responsible for an increase in divorces, it’s of course always a good idea to use discretion with social media. This isn’t just the case when you’re still in a marriage—it becomes perhaps even more important when you’re in the midst of a divorce, and your spouse is looking for any and everything to use against you.
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