The role of social media in divorce

What is the role of social media in divorce?

Social media usage is growing by the day, and so is it’s impact on our relationships. Since social media’s launch in the early 2000s, it has gone from strength to strength and changed the way in which we interact with the world. Sites like Facebook and Instagram allow us a deeper insight into the lives of our friends, family and work colleagues than ever before. However, this level of “connectedness” has its downsides, and can be extremely addictive.

According to an article by The Telegraph from August 2018[1], people are on average online for 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago, with one in five of all adults spending as much as 40 hours a week on the web. Britons are now so addicted to them that they check them every 12 minutes.

This incessant need to be on our phones, constantly checking, scrolling and refreshing, can have a detrimental effect on our relationships, particularly romantic ones. We take a deep dive into how our smart phone and social media usage, could be damaging to your relationship.

What are the downsides to social media?

Social media has expanded our world and made it possible to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world at any time, regardless of time zones. This advancement in technology and connectivity has had huge benefits, but it has negatives that can impact our relationships.

  1. Spending too much time on your phone
  2. Obviously what your spouse is actually doing on social media can potentially cause conflict, but so too can the amount of time they spend on their phone. With people aged 16-24 spending an average of 34.3 hours a week on the internet, it is no wonder that it can cause ructions. Phones can cause tension when going out for a meal if your partner is consistently on their phone. It was further revealed in The Telegraph’s article that 74% of those aged 18-34 and 90% of over-55s found that being on your phone at mealtimes was inappropriate which can in turn cause arguments.[1]

  3. Jealousy and snooping
  4. Social media can cause spouses to feel jealous of their partner and their interactions online. Whether there is any evidence or not that their partner is acting suspiciously. If a spouse spends a large amount of their time on their phone and not with their partner, it may make them suspicious of what their partner is doing, and why it’s taking up so much time. This can lead to trust issues, and checking phones, messages and social media accounts.

  5. Social media and infidelity
  6. With the rise of dating apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, it has made it easier than ever before to seek out an affair. It has been said that 30% of tinder users are married. With such easy access into the dating world and in such a discreet way, it can be tempting for some people to download these apps when things are rocky in their relationship. Seeking or forming any type out romantic relationship outside of your marriage can cause major problems to your relationship.

Social media’s impact on divorce

Social media isn’t necessarily cited as a prominent reason for seeking a divorce, however it can be an aggravating factor in the breakdown of some marriages. It can be used to demonstrate that a spouse has been unfaithful, either through their dating app usage, or if there are any photos showing them with another partner. It can also cause problems when a couple have separated and are in the process of going through a divorce. It can be used to show photos where the other spouse has moved on and is in another relationship.

Social media's impact on divorce

The positives of social media and the internet for relationships

There is some good news, however. With the rise of dating apps more people are beginning relationships online and through social networks, with more than a third of marriages now beginning online.

In a 2018 article from the BBC, they reported that Pew Research found 59% of adults are now thinking that online dating is a good way to meet people[2].

Sociologists Michael Rosenfeld and Reuben Thomas found that even as early as 2005, 20% of same-sex couples were meeting online – this number climbed to 70% by 2010[3]

Grindr’s Jack Harrison-Quintana told the BBC online dating has been useful for gay men, as homosexuality is still punishable by death in five countries and parts of two others.

“The fundamental reason dating apps were created in the gay community was to protect users and create a safe environment, no matter where they are located,” says Jack.

Conclusions

It is important to be aware of how much time we spend online and be mindful of how we spend our time when we are on social media. There is definitely a balance that needs to be achieved between our life online and making time for our relationship, friends, family and hobbies. If too much time is spent online, it could cause damage to our relationship.

If you require advice following the breakdown of your relationship we offer a free 20-minute initial consultation, so call and speak to one of our specialist law team who will be happy to assist you further on 0800 614 722 or send an email to enquiries@birchallblackburn.co.uk.

For more information on our Family Law services and how our specialist solicitors can help you, please visit our Family Law page here.

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1. Hymas, C. (2018) A decade of smartphones: We now spend an entire day every week online [online] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/01/decade-smartphones-now-spend-entire-day-every-week-online/. The Telegraph.
2. Belton, P. (2018) Love and dating after the Tinder revolution [online] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42988025. BBC.
3. Rosenfeld, M. and Thomas, R. (2012) Searching for a Mate: The Rise of the Internet as a Social Intermediary [online] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0003122412448050