Social media has plenty of benefits. You can stay up to date with your friends and track down long lost college roommates, but it also has a dark side. Social media can lead to a decrease in happiness, breed narcissism and cyber bullying, and according to a recent study, lead to divorce.

A new study published in Computers and Human Behavior found a correlation between social media use and divorce rates in the United States.

Researchers conducted a two-part study to examine the effects of social media and martial happiness. In the first part of the study, researchers looked at state-by-state divorce rates and per-capita Facebook accounts. In the second part of the study, researchers analyzed a survey that asked couples about their marriage quality and the average time they spend on social media sites.

After compiling all the data researchers uncovered:

  • A 20 percent annual increase in Facebook membership was associated with a 2.18 to 4.32 percent increase in divorce rates depending on the location.
  • A married person who does not use social media is, on average, 11 percent happier than a heavy social media user.
  • Overall, there was an inverse relationship between martial happiness and time spent on social media in both studies.

“Although it may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared to other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital satisfaction, it nonetheless seems to be the case,” the authors wrote.

The findings were interesting, but the authors stopped short of saying there was a causal relationship between marital dissatisfaction and social media use. They reasoned that individuals going through a rough patch in their marriage might turn to their social networks for support, which would explain the increase in social media. However, they did hypothesis that the addictive nature of social media could lead to martial strife, and they added that certain sites could help facilitate an extramarital affair, which in turn could lead to divorce.

Related source: CNBC

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