Social media is a wonderful new technology, keeping distant friends and relatives from across the world connected. However, being constantly connected is something that humans have not evolved for, and the unintended consequences of being socially connected at all times are only now becoming apparent.
A new study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking has now linked social networking, and Twitter in particular, with relationship difficulties. The study shows that excessive Twitter use could damage romantic relationships and spur conflict related to Twitter usage.
The study looked at over 580 Twitter users, surveying them about their Twitter use and any conflict in their current or previous romantic relationships. Researchers found that the more active study participants were on Twitter, the more likely they were to experience conflict with their partners over their Twitter usage. Twitter usage was also correlated with disastrous relationship outcomes such as cheating, break-ups, and divorce.
"I found it interesting that active Twitter users experienced Twitter-related conflict and negative relationship outcomes regardless of length of romantic relationship," said Russell Clayton, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. "Couples who reported being in relatively new relationships experienced the same amount of conflict as those in longer relationships."
Clayton had previously examined the effect of Facebook on relationships. In that study he found that newer couples were more in danger of Facebook-related conflicts.
"Although a number of variables can contribute to relationship infidelity and separation, social networking site usage, such as Twitter and Facebook use, can be damaging to relationships," said Clayton. "Therefore, users should cut back to moderate, healthy levels of Twitter use if they are experiencing Twitter or Facebook - related conflict. Some couples share joint social networking site accounts to reduce relationship conflict, and there are some social networking site apps, such as the 2Life app, that facilitates interpersonal communication between partners."