What does social media have to do with divorce?

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The secret to long and satisfying relationships, they say, is communication. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that couples who use more media channels to communicate will live together forever.

Research conducted at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute found that married couples who communicate through more channels reported lower levels of satisfaction within their relationships. As a matter of fact, those that used over five channels said they were 14 per cent less satisfied in their marriages.

The survey, which polled around 24,000 married couples, found these results taking into consideration a list of ten media channels including texts, emails, and social media, particularly Facebook.

“This work suggests that media, which now includes online social media, still operates as a signal of ties of strength in relationships,” said Dr Bernie Hogan of the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute and author of the research.

“However, there may be a cut-off point after which the increasing complexity of maintaining so many separate communications threads starts to undermine relationship ties.”

Notably, the results of this new research support the theory of “media multiplexity,” which refers to the ability to communicate using a wider number of communications channels. Moreover, the theory draws a link between the media channels used to communicate and their effects on the relationships between people.

The theory was initially tested in the age of email, telephone and chat. Now with social media dominating digital communication, it is fitting to assess how relationship ties are enhanced or affected by these media channels, noted Dr Hogan.


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