Twitter exacerbates relationship problems, says study

If you find yourself bickering with your partner over Twitter, watch out: it’s a warning sign your relationship could be on thin ice. At least, that’s according to new research from the University of Missouri-Columbia, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Russell Clayton, a doctoral student in the journalism department, surveyed 581 Twitter users aged 18 to 67. He analysed how much time they and their partner (or ex) spent on Twitter, how many arguments occurred via or as a result of the site, and whether break-ups correlated with Twitter usage.

He discovered that active Twitter use and Twitter-based arguments were associated with an increase in infidelity, break-ups and divorce, regardless of the length of the relationship. Previous research has found a link between relationship break-ups and Facebook use. Editor in Chief of the journal Dr Brenda K. Wiederhold told Psych Central, ‘Since much of the social networking research is in its infancy, we do not know if other media, such as Instagram, will also impact relationships in a negative way.’

However, it’s hard to tell whether the relationships would have lasted without the Twitter fights, or if social media was a major cause of their breakdown. Either way, we’re only likely to see more relationship conflicts play out online in future. Just ask Robin Thicke. (Or wait, don’t.)

Diane Shipley

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