Excessive Facebook use can damage relationships, study finds

June 6, 2013

Facebook and other social networking web sites have revolutionized the way people create and maintain relationships. However, new research shows that Facebook use could actually be damaging to users' romantic 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.

In their study, Clayton, along with Alexander Nagurney, an instructor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and Jessica R. Smith, a doctoral student at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, surveyed Facebook users ages 18 to 82 years old. Participants were asked to describe how often they used Facebook and how much, if any, conflict arose between their current or former partners as a result of Facebook use. The researchers found that high levels of Facebook use among couples significantly predicted Facebook-related conflict, which then significantly predicted outcomes such as 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 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."

Clayton says this trend was particularly apparent in newer relationships.

"These findings held only for couples who had been in relationships of three years or less," Clayton said. "This suggests that Facebook may be a threat to relationships that are not fully matured. On the other hand, participants who have been in relationships for longer than three years may not use Facebook as often, or may have more matured relationships, and therefore Facebook use may not be a threat or concern."

In order to prevent such conflict from arising, Clayton recommends couples, especially those who have not been together for very long, to limit their own personal Facebook use.

"Although Facebook is a great way to learn about someone, excessive Facebook use may be damaging to newer ," Clayton said. "Cutting back to moderate, healthy levels of usage could help reduce conflict, particularly for newer couples who are still learning about each other."

This study is forthcoming in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

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1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 06, 2013
Haven't people got better things to do than to waste their lives on Facebook or Twitter? It's an abuse of technology like gaming.
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 07, 2013
Haven't people got better things to do than to waste their lives on Facebook or Twitter? It's an abuse of technology like gaming.

How is gaming an abuse of technology?
1 / 5 (5) Jun 07, 2013
How is gaming an abuse of technology?

Gaming is pointless.

1 / 5 (3) Jun 07, 2013
How is gaming an abuse of technology?

Gaming is pointless.

I was going to point out the billions in economic activity, but reflected and realized that that too is a game, and also pretty pointless... :-)
1.3 / 5 (6) Jun 07, 2013
The most pointless of human activities are:

Religion, chosen stupidity, causes mind disintegration and loss of rational thought.
Facebook and Twitter, boring, self important bullshit.
Smoking, selfish stupidity.
Gaming, why bother?
Television, needs no explanation, just watch it. It soon becomes apparent TV rots the brain.

1.4 / 5 (5) Jun 07, 2013
Why We Have So Much "Duh" Science? Overemployment of researchers and the fear of controversial topics (psychic phenomena, for example) is the culprit here. BTW Everything can damage relationships, when it's done excessively - why just the Facebook should be an exception?

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