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Frequent Twitter Users Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Spouses, Get Divorced: Study

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
Yahoo Tech

File this one under information that Anthony Weiner could’ve used a few years ago.

A new study found that frequent Twitter users are more prone to infidelity, breakups, and divorce. 

The project, conducted by University of Missouri School of Journalism doctorate student Russell Clayton, surveyed 581 Twitter users who ranged in age from 18 to 67. Clayton asked participants specific questions about how often they log in, tweet, scroll through their feed, send direct messages, and reply to followers. He also asked questions about how much, if any, conflict occurred between the tweeter and his or her partner because of use of the social network.

Ultimately, Clayton found that active Twitter users are far more likely to experience Twitter-related conflict with their romantic partners. His findings mirror a study he co-wrote last year, which found that frequent Facebookers experienced the same problem. He says that, although relationships have always suffered from one partner’s distractions or obsessions, social media plays a special role in these situations.

“I think this is unique,” Clayton told Yahoo Tech. “Because the questions I asked about Facebook- or Twitter-related conflict were specifically: Are you reconnecting with former partners on Facebook or Twitter? Has Facebook or Twitter use led to a verbal dispute or argument between you and your current or former partner?”

Clayton was first inspired to research the effects of social media on relationships while he was sitting in on counseling sessions for his master’s in health psychology.

“I experienced a couple arguing about Facebook use and that being problematic in their relationship,” he said. “So I decided to test that and see if that was happening among the general population. And it was, and so is Twitter.”

Comparing his two studies, Clayton was surprised to find that the length of time a couple had been together did not affect whether they would be negatively affected by one partner’s Twitter activity.

“Facebook may not pose any kind of threat for someone celebrating their 50th anniversary,” he told Yahoo Tech. “But for Twitter, it didn’t matter if you had just gotten in a relationship or if you’d been married for several years — people were still experiencing conflict with their partner and that was leading to these unfortunate negative outcomes.”

So is there any way to stop Twitter from ruining your relationship? Clayton suggests finding ways to limit your usage, or using technology designed to facilitate closeness among couples.

“There are apps, such as the 2life app, which is for couples to share joint accounts, calendars, messages,” he explained. “It would be interesting to see if that kind of app reduces conflict. It’s definitely an overlooked area.”

[h/t Slade Sohmer]

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