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Facebook Fears

New research shows Facebook may be hazardous to your marriage

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Boston University researchers concluded that heavy social media users were more likely to think about divorce than those without accounts. Photo via Ozy.com

Facebook is no stranger to bad press. And it turns out that even when our social media overlords aren't manipulating our moods, our relationships could be affected by all that time spent with virtual friends.

According to a new study from Boston University, people who use social media are twice as likely as nonusers to think about leaving their spouses. The national study, titled "Social network sites, marriage well-being and divorce," included a special Texas subset for comparison purposes.

 Nonusers were 11 percent happier with their marriage than heavy social media users.

Using data from 1,160 married couples polled by the University of Texas at Austin, researchers also concluded that heavy social media users were more likely to think about divorce than those without accounts (32 percent versus 16 percent).

Nonusers in Texas reported being more than 11 percent happier with their marriage than heavy social media users.

In the national survey, researchers found that as a state's engagement in social media increased, the divorce rate grew. States that showed a 20 percent increase in social media users from 2008 to 2010 also had a 2 percent growth in divorce rate.

In a release about the study on Boston University's website, the authors said the findings weren't necessarily a "causal effect" but could be a "significant predictor of divorce rates."

“The apparent association between the use of Facebook and other social networking sites and divorce and marital unhappiness in the United States raises troubling questions not only about how we use these tools, but how their use affects marriage,” researcher James Katz said.

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