Opinion Research Technology — 04 July 2014

Heavy Twitter use can lead to conflicts and other damaging effects on marriages and romantic relationships, a study has shown.

The study followed up on research that showed similar impacts for Facebook and raises questions about whether social network use in general is bad for relationships.

The study appearing in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that “active Twitter use leads to greater amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce”. The author, University of Missouri doctoral researcher Russell Clayton, concluded that these findings add to the evidence about social network use’s dark side for personal relationships.

Clayton’s research published in the same journal last year found that a high level of Facebook usage was associated with “negative relationship outcomes”.bigstockphoto_ Social Media Addiction_1469629

The journal’s editor-in-chief Brenda Wiederhold said these findings highlight the need for more study on social network use. “Since much of the social networking research is in its infancy, we do not know if other media, such as Instagram, will also impact relationships in a negative way,” she said in a statement.

The latest study surveyed 581 adult Twitter users, asking about how often they used the social network and about what conflicts arose between participants’ current or former partners as a result of Twitter use.

Clayton found that the more often a respondent reported being active on Twitter, the more likely they were to experience Twitter-related conflict with a partner.

The results “partially replicate” Clayton’s earlier research on Facebook use and negative relationship outcomes, he wrote.

“Based on the findings from both studies, Twitter and Facebook use can have damaging effects on romantic relationships,” he said in the study.

“That is, when (social networking) use becomes problematic in one’s romantic relationship, risk of negative relationship outcomes may follow.”

This article first appeared on The Australian on 4 July, 2014.

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