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Is there a link between Facebook use and divorce rates?

There has been a lot of buzz in the news about a possible correlation between social media and divorce rates, specifically Facebook. Studies have looked at data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey as well as information from older studies to see what links exist and how Facebook can impact a marriage.

To quickly clarify, though there is a connection between the rise in divorce rates and an increased use of Facebook, this does not necessarily mean that more time on Facebook causes higher divorce rates: it’s merely a correlation.

Many theorists have tried to make sense of the correlation between social media use and divorce rates. For example, one theory focuses on the relationships that Facebook can create over time. A user may go online and reconnect with an old high school flame. Initially the relationship may be harmless, but it may lead to a casual dinner and eventually result in an affair.

Another theory emphasizes the time spent on Facebook or other social media platforms. If one spouse is always checking their updates or scrolling through their friends’ profiles, the other spouse may feel neglected. It can reduce the amount of communication between a couple while negatively affect the relationship.

Interestingly enough, one study found that the word “Facebook” appeared in more than 30% of divorce filings several years ago. With the growing use of social media, that number may have increased since then. This could indicate that spouses should be cautious in their use of social media before and during the divorce process – status updates, images and other information could be used during a custody or alimony dispute.

With time, researchers may be able to determine whether causation does exist. But for now, these will all remain as theories.

Source: Marketwatch, “Does Facebook break up marriages?” Quentin Fottrell, July 13, 2014.

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