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Are apps like Instagram bad for your marriage? A study published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior analyzed the impact of social media site use on marriage and divorce.

Review the research about how spending time on social media could affect the health of your relationship, for better or worse.

What the study says

The study authors from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Boston University looked at both individual and state-level data on social media use. States with higher rates of Facebook use also had increasing divorce rates.

Researchers report that among individuals, higher social media use correlates with an elevated risk of divorce and increased dissatisfaction with marriage. Study participants who identify as frequent social media users are more likely to report frequent thoughts about divorce.

Why this effect occurs

Analysis from the Pew Research Center shed light on some ways social media may damage marital relationships:

  • More than half of survey respondents said their partner is distracted by their phone during conversations sometimes or often
  • More than half say they use social media to look up previous relationship partners
  • 40% said they have concerns about the amount of their partner’s smartphone use
  • More than a third said they have looked through their partner’s phone secretly

These effects were most pronounced among the 30-to-49 age group, followed by those ages 18 to 29.

While we need more research to understand the link between social media use and marriage health, awareness of the potential impact of these sites can help you take steps to strengthen your relationship.