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Study: Heavy Facebook use could be a predictor of Texas divorces

It's unlikely that viewing photos of your college roommate's kids or catching up with a former colleague on Facebook will destroy your marriage. However, devoting hours to social networking sites could be a sign that you aren't getting the attention and support you need from your spouse.

A recently-published study discovered a correlation between social media use, a troubled marriage and divorce. According to the study's authors, frequent use of social networking sites, especially Facebook, is "a positive, significant predictor of divorce rate and spousal troubles" nationwide. The three authors, all professors specializing in communications, published their findings in a journal called Computers in Human Behavior.

The study used data collected in a 2011 study of almost 1,200 married couples from 18 to 39 years old by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. In that study, couples answered questions about their marriages. Researchers found that non-users of social networking sites were over 11 percent happier in their relationships than those categorized as heavy users. Twice as many heavy social media users reported contemplating ending the marriage than non-users.

The new study also looked at divorce rates and the number of Facebook accounts in 43 states. Researchers found a consistent correlation between the number of Facebook users and the divorce rate in these states. Specifically, they found that when the number of Facebook users rose by 20 percent, the divorce rate rose by more than two percent.

As the authors noted, the use of Facebook doesn't necessarily have a "causal effect" on divorce. However, it may be a "significant predictor of divorce rates."

It's not surprising that couples who are unhappy or unfulfilled in their relationships would seek out friends, acquaintances and even strangers for support and conversation. Gone are the days when you had to pick up the phone or go out to socialize with others. Now couples can sit at their computers, sometimes in the same room, and reach out to others with similar interests rather than talking to each other.

Couples who realize that this could be a symptom of a larger problem may be able to work through their issues. For others, it may be time for a conversation about ending the marriage. If the latter is the solution, Texas family law attorneys can help work to protect your rights and assets and help a difficult and often painful process go as smoothly as possible.

Source: Boston Business Journal, "Frequent Facebook use could signal divorce on the way" James Katz, Jun. 04, 2014

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