Social media is all about relationships – it's in the name. But as more and more people become connected to each other, it seems it may be tearing them apart in ways never imagined, including infidelity and divorce.
That's what a new report from the University of Missouri is saying. Doctoral student Russell Clayton published "The Third Wheel: The Impact of Twitter Use on Relationship Infidelity and Divorce" in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, which found that active Twitter users are far more likely to experience Twitter–related conflict with their romantic partners than non-users. Clayton surveyed 581 Twitter users of all ages, gauging "active Twitter use" by answers to questions about how often they log into Twitter and tweet, how often they reply to tweets, direct message users, and scroll through the Twitter timeline.
"Although a number of variables can contribute to relationship infidelity and separation, social networking site usage, such as Twitter and Facebook use, can be damaging to relationships," Clayton said. "Therefore, users should cut back to moderate, healthy levels of Twitter use if they are experiencing Twitter or Facebook – related conflict."
Clayton then goes on to recommend that these at-risk couples share joint social networking site accounts to reduce relationship conflict, and use social networking site apps, such as the 2Life app, that facilitates interpersonal communication between partners.
While Clayton's report is eye opening, a Pew Research Internet Project report published in February says 41% of 18-29 year olds in serious relationships feel online conversations have brought them closer together, with 23% of them say they have used "digital tools" to resolve an argument they were having trouble fixing in person, so there might be hope for digital love yet.
For more: Study Claims People Who Frequently Use Twitter May Be More Likely to Cheat and Get Divorced (Time)