Twitter use linked to cheating, divorce: study
In this photo, a smartphone display shows the Twitter logo in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP / Soeren Stache)
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, April 7, 2014 1:30PM EDT
Can't resist checking your Twitter feed or replying to a tweet? You may want to take a Twitter hiatus, as you may be damaging your relationship, according to a new study.
The University of Missouri study found that frequent Twitter use may be detrimental to romantic relationships.
The results of the study, published Monday in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, suggest that active Twitter use leads to more Twitter-related conflict between partners. This in turn can lead to negative outcomes including cheating, breaking up and divorce, study author and doctoral candidate Russell Clayton concluded.
For the study, 581 Twitter users between the ages of 18 and 67 participated in a 20-question online survey.
The survey collected information about their Twitter use, their relationship status and whether they had experienced any Twitter-related conflict with their partner.
Some of the questions that respondents were asked included: how often they log onto Twitter, how often they tweet, how often they reply to other users and how often they send direct messages to others.
Participants were also asked how often they argue with their partner over excessive use of the micro-blogging tool.
Finally, they were asked if Twitter had ever led them to emotionally or physically cheat on, break up with or divorce their partner.
Clayton found that the more often a respondent reported being active on Twitter, the more likely they were to experience Twitter-related conflict with their partner. This then significantly predicted negative relationship outcomes.
For couples who find that they're always fighting over Twitter, Clayton has some simple advice: set some limits on how often you use social media.
"Users should cut back to moderate, healthy levels of Twitter use if they are experiencing Twitter or Facebook-related conflict," he said in a statement. He also notes that some couples have taken to using joint social networking accounts to reduce conflict.
The study is the latest in a body of research that examines the effects of social networks on interpersonal relationships. The findings are similar to those of a 2013 study by Clayton, which suggested that excessive Facebook use can be damaging to romantic relationships.
In that study, Clayton found that Facebook-related conflict and negative relationship outcomes were greater in couples who had been in a relationship for three years or less. But in the Twitter study, he found that these same outcomes occurred regardless of how long the couple had been together.
Clayton said that future research should examine if use of other popular social networks, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, also predict negative relationship outcomes