Recent study indicates excess social media use could lead to divorce

Sometimes it can be hard for us, in an increasingly digital world, to "log off" our electronic devices. We may feel compelled to check email, send texts, surf the web, and connect on social media constantly. It comes as no big surprise that getting off the proverbial grid for a while is good for us, since it forces us to pay attention to our surroundings, get some fresh air and spend time with our loved ones. However, many people may not realize that, if the results of a recent study are true, spending too much time online - particularly on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - can be detrimental to our romantic relationships.

The research

The study was led by Russell Clayton, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. The research pool was made up of nearly 600 active users of the immensely popular micro-blogging site Twitter (a previous study was focused solely on the world's most used social networking site, Facebook). He polled subjects about the extent of their Twitter use, including how they access the site, how often they post, whether they respond to "tweets" posted by others, if they read the news-feed or if they send private messages directly to other Twitter users.

Clayton then compared the level of Twitter engagement gleaned from the subject's responses with information they provided about their interpersonal relationships, particularly marriages and romantic partnerships. He found that the most active Twitter users were more likely to have what he referred to as "Twitter-related conflict," and that with higher rates of that "Twitter-related conflict" came increased chances that the couple will split, one or both partners will engage in cheating (emotional or physical), become separated or divorce.

Interpreting the results

While some have heralded Clayton's research as indicative of the larger societal issues that come along with putting our intimate details out for the world to see on social media, others are critical of his methods and doubt his conclusions. Some have pointed out that both of Clayton's social media studies focused solely on those who are actively engaged in social networks, with no "control group" of people who either don't use social media or who do so sparingly. Furthermore, it has been argued that his sample size of only a few hundred individuals is too small to extrapolate to the millions of people who use social media.

Whether you trust Clayton's research methodology or you have questions about the veracity of his claims, the fact remains that social media is part of many of our lives. Evidence derived from social media is now used in the majority of divorce and disputed family law cases, and some people have tied reasons for a breakup back to their partner's excess social networking. Regardless, if you are involved in a divorce, child custody fight or alimony dispute - even if social media isn't an issue - you want an experienced family law attorney at your side. Having a family lawyer there to protect your rights could make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.