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Divorce study may make you think twice about Facebook

Most people have developed very concrete routines when it comes to their Internet use. For instance, the first stop for many people on the Web may be a favorite news site to catch up on current events, a gossip site to catch up on the Hollywood rumor mill, or a sports site to catch up on the latest scores. Still others, however, make social media sites, like the always-popular Facebook, their first destination.

As it turns out, married couples might want to think twice before logging on to update their status. That's because a recently published study led by researchers at Boston University identified Facebook use as "a positive, significant predictor of divorce rate and spousal troubles" here in the U.S.

The researchers arrived at this startling conclusion via a fascinating two-part study.

In the first part of the study, the researchers examined data gathered on married couples across the nation from 2008 to 2010. Specifically, they divided the number of Facebook accounts in 43 states with the total population, and compared this number to the divorce rates in each of the 43 states.

They discovered that a 2.18 percent increase in the divorce rate in the given states could be traced to a 20 percent increase in Facebook users there, and that this finding held true even when such variables as age, race and employment status were considered.

In the second part of the study, the researchers examined data on 1,160 married people gathered as part of a 2011 experiment by University of Texas researchers to uncover more about the quality of romantic relationships.

The BU researchers found that on an individual level, spouses classified as regular users of social media were 32 percent more likely to entertain the notion of leaving their significant other versus 16 percent for nonusers. Furthermore, they determined that nonusers of social media were actually 11.4 percent happier in their marriages than regular users.

The researchers theorize that it's only natural that people unhappy in their marriages would turn to social media for some sort of human connection, and that social media -- especially Facebook -- is structured to facilitate this happening.

They also believe, however, that their study can serve to raise awareness.

"We believe being aware of this situation will empower Facebook users to better understand the implications of their activities and then allow them to make much more informed decisions," said one of the primary authors of the study.

Have you noticed Facebook or any other type of social media having an impact on your marriage or relationships?

If you would like to learn more about the divorce process or divorce alternatives, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: Science Blog, "Could Facebook use end a marriage?" June 2, 2014

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