London: Engaging in too much social media activity may damage strong relationships, a new Oxford study has warned. Research by Dr Bernie Hogan of Oxford University tested the theory of 'media multiplexity' (the ability to communicate via several communications channels) which was first posed in 2005.
The theory suggests that there is a clear link between the number of media channels used to communicate, the frequency they are used and the strength of relationship ties. "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," Hogan said.
"We wanted to see if these more diverse communications channels strengthened relationship ties in the digital era," Hogan added. Over 24,000 people in marital relationships took part in the new research, using 10 media channels.
"We found that those using more media tend to report no greater relationship satisfaction and some even reported decreasing satisfaction," Hogan said. "This work suggests that media, which now includes online social media, still operates as a signal of ties of strength in relationships.
"However there may be a cut-off point after which the increasing complexity of maintaining so many separate communications threads starts to undermine relationship ties," Hogan said. The study was presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate.