Is the Internet threatening your marriage? You may be surprised to learn that divorce in Pennsylvania and other states is linked to membership on Facebook and other social media sites. A recent academic study released in Computers in Human Behavior shows that the popularity of Facebook in a region actually affects the divorce rate.

Statistics show that a 20 percent jump in users in a state leads to about a 2 percent increase in the divorce rate. Further, about one in three heavy social-media consumers say they have seriously considered leaving their spouses. That is about double the amount of those unplugged spouses who have considered divorce.

Experts say that the study provides an important initial look into the ways in which social media affects relationships. Social media is already a major part of our everyday lives; new research could help pinpoint the shortcomings of Facebook and other sites in promoting marital health. Social scientists and even politicians could use the information to change the face of divorce throughout the country.

Although the role of Facebook in the marriage itself is unclear, social media definitely plays an important part in modern divorce proceedings. Facebook and other sites are extraordinarily useful during child custody negotiations, property division and other stages of a divorce. About four in five divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of divorce cases that involve social networking as a concern or source of evidence.

Your ex-spouse could conceivably use your social media presence against you during various stages of your divorce. Those who are going through the end of a marriage may benefit from limiting their social media footprint for awhile by increasing privacy settings and even temporarily suspending accounts. It is better to be safe in this case than sorry.

Source: Christian Post, “Facebook Users Are More Likely to Divorce, Study Finds” Michael Gryboski, Jul. 18, 2014