Facebook, the online social network, is estimated to have over 1 billion users per month. As the network has gained in popularity, researchers and scientists have been studying the effects on our daily lives, particularly our real life relationships. A study from the University of Michigan finds that Facebook use may dampen users’ happiness levels. Furthermore, in 2012, divorce lawyers surveyed by Divorce-Online UK said that the social network was implicated in a third of all divorce filings the previous year. And more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Our divorce attorneys at Harden Jackson Law in Indiana can agree with these sentiments.
Most recently, another study was done at the University of Missouri that indicates excessive Facebook use can CAUSE damage to relationships. Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism, found that individuals who use Facebook excessively are far more likely to experience Facebook-related conflict with their romantic partners, which then may cause negative relationship outcomes including emotional and physical cheating, breakup and divorce.
“Previous research has shown that the more a person in a romantic relationship uses Facebook, the more likely they are to monitor their partner’s Facebook activity more stringently, which can lead to feelings of jealousy,” Clayton said. “Facebook-induced jealousy may lead to arguments concerning past partners. Also, our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating.”
This trend applied particularly to couples who had been in relationships under 3 years, maybe because these relationships had not fully matured.
So, how do you detach from the social media world? Some users reported deactivating their account to save their relationships. It’s obvious that people need to focus on their personal, face-to-face relationships more and less on those “virtual” relationships. Facebook is a social networking tool that should be used as such and not taken too seriously. Also, limit your time on Facebook, instead of checking hourly, check daily or even a couple of times per week. Pare down your friend list to those that truly matter to your real life.