Time spent on social network sites such as Facebook could be an indicator of a failing marriage, according to a team of researchers that included Dr. James Katz, Feld Professor of Emerging Media at Boston University. Katz teamed with Sebastian Valenzuela and Daniel Halpern of the Catholic University of Chile in examining data from the United States that compared divorce rates in each state with Facebook penetration. Their work appeared in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
The authors write, “It may seem surprising that a Facebook profile, a relatively small factor compared to other drivers of human behavior, could have a significant statistical relationship with divorce rates and marital dissatisfaction. It nonetheless seems to be the case.”
In a separate set of data collected as part of a survey of married people by the University of Texas at Austin, the researchers found that those who spent more time on social network sites reported lower levels of marital happiness.
Is spending time on Facebook the cause of unhappy marriages, or is it a symptom? The researchers say that is not clear… and that the answer could be both.