Your Facebook habit could harm your relationship status. Heavy Facebook use—spending four or more hours a day on the social networking site—is associated with decreased satisfaction in your relationship and an increased risk of divorce, reports the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
For the study, researchers surveyed 1,160 married adults ages 18 to 39 about their social networking use and marital satisfaction and examined divorce and Facebook-use rates nationwide. What they found: A 20 percent rise in a state’s population with a Facebook account is associated with a four percent increase in divorce rates the following year. They also found that the likelihood of a person thinking about leaving his or her spouse in the last 12 months is nearly twice as high for people who frequently use social media compared to those who aren’t on social networking sites.
Say what? Before you delete your account, remember the study shows an association between Facebook use and divorce rates, but doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship. What’s more, researchers aren’t sure whether frequently scrolling through Facebook may actually make people more likely to divorce or people whose relationships are on the rocks spend more time on Facebook than those who enjoy wedded bliss. According to researchers, if Facebook is to blame it may be because the site may spark jealousy between partners—harming the quality of your relationship—and it makes it easier than ever to have an affair. (No Facebook, we don’t want to be friends with our ex-high school boyfriend.)
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Still, study author Daniel Halpern, Ph.D., of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, says it’s okay to use the social media hub, so long as you’re careful about how you use it to portray your relationship online. “Problems occur when you start to think that you and your relationship are what your Facebook profile and photos say.” So if you’re thinking about posting a photo of you and your beau just to make others think how in love you are (even if you are), put down your iPhone and use that time to soak in each other’s company instead. Plus, it couldn’t hurt to unplug. In the study, people who didn’t use the Book were 11 percent happier with their marriages than those who logged on for four or more hours per day.