Are you an avid social media user? If so, you might want to consider the effect it could be having on your relationships.
As more research is conducted on social media usage, the link between activity on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and relationship quality is becoming more apparent.
A recent study published in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking discovered that people who use Facebook more than once an hour are more likely to “experience Facebook-related conflict with their romantic partners.” That conflict can in turn lead to a breakup or divorce.
One of the study’s authors hypothesized that more frequent social media activity and monitoring of one’s partner can lead to misunderstandings and conjure feelings of jealousy.
This is hardly the first time researchers have linked social media use to relationship turmoil.
Another study that was published in the Journal of Computers in Human Behavior found a direct link between social media use and a decrease in marital quality.
Anecdotal evidence sheds more light on this subject.
A survey of nearly 2,000 married individuals in Great Britain found just under half admit to snooping on a partner’s Facebook account. One in 5 of those say they went on to have an argument about what they discovered and 1 in 7 say they contemplated divorce.
Of course, simply using a social media website isn’t going to instantaneously cause a marriage to break down. There are certainly other factors that contribute to relationship troubles.
However, it is important to understand how, in some relationships where there is already a high degree of conflict, social media usage can be like pouring gasoline on a fire.
Here are some things to keep in mind regarding social media as it relates to marriage and divorce.
Set some ground rules
If you’re in a relationship, it’s a good idea to talk to your partner about each other’s social media use.
Let them know if there is some activity that makes you uncomfortable and be receptive if they say you’re doing something they don’t like. Be honest about it.
It’s also important to respect each other’s privacy. Snooping on each other is only going to breed mistrust.
And possibly most importantly, step away from the screen every now and then. Make sure you spend plenty of time together when your faces aren’t buried in your phone checking out your friends’ latest Tweets.
Limit use if going through divorce
If you’re going through a divorce or child custody case, it’s probably best to completely shut down your social media accounts.
That’s because your online activity can play an enormous role in the outcome of your case.
“In just about every case nowadays we ask for discover about Facebook timelines,” said Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney Bryan Abercrombie. “Just about every attorney does because there’s just so much information on social media.”
Social media postings are now frequently used as evidence in divorce and child custody cases. For example, photos of a parent out partying could be used as evidence that they are unfit to care for a child.
When deciding what is appropriate to post, it is always best to take an extremely cautious approach.
“When deciding to post images or comments on your social media page before, during and even after your divorce, ask yourself certain questions,” said Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyer Cassandra Pillonel. “Ask yourself, ‘Would I want this comment to be seen by a judge? Would I want this photo to be seen by a courtroom full of people? Would someone understand this comment if they were reading it out of context?’”
Contact an attorney
Since no laws govern social media usage in divorce proceedings, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney if you’re going through a divorce or child custody case.
A family law attorney can guide you through the process and help ensure that your social media activity will not hurt your case.