While social media offers obvious benefits in terms of meeting potential spouses, it can also pose a threat to marital stability, according to a study of 24,000 married people by the Oxford
Internet Institute at the University of Oxford.
The study examined the impact of “media multiplexity,” or the ability for individuals to communicate via
multiple platforms, on married relationships. The theory holds that the more ways people have to communicate, the stronger their relationships should be. However the study discovered a contradictory
phenomenon, as additional communication channels not only failed to correlate with greater marital satisfaction, but actually seemed to correlate with dissatisfaction.
Lead researcher Bernie Hogan explained: “This theory was first put forward in an era of email, chat and telephone conversations. However, we are now firmly in the age of digital
communication with social media really taking off. We wanted to see if these more diverse communications channels strengthened relationship ties in the digital era.” However, “We found
that those using more media tend to report no greater relationship satisfaction and some even reported decreasing satisfaction.”
It’s not hard to see how
multiplying media channels might cause problems in relationships. In March I wrote about research from Weber Shandwick and KRC Research (a subsidiary of WS), which surveyed 2,000 U.S. and Canadian
women as part of its “Digital Women Influencers” study, and found women who are intensive social media users are also more likely to enjoy online socializing than dating or spending time
with their partner.