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Effect of Social Media on Relationship Satisfaction

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3357 words Published: 9th Apr 2018

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Implications of Social Media to Relationship Satisfaction and Conflict Resolution Skills


Social media is a group of internet based applications which build on the technological and ideological foundations of Web 2.0. They allow exchange and creation of content generated by various users. Currently, the major sites that provide ample networking include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. In addition to these, there exists multiple end-user new sites that support only two way participant interaction and communication. The most recent is WhatsApp. This allows for a more personalized interaction. Usage for social media is measured through frequency of logins, postage, updates and interactions.

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The traditional relationship model has been altered by the success of the new media forms which include social media websites and text messaging (Coyne et al., 2011). According to Coyne, social media affects the communication in a romantic relationship thus influencing satisfaction. It also identified that how family members and friends relate is also influenced. The article reviews the literature available in relation to how social media can either minimize or improve the satisfaction in a relationship. In addition, it realizes that through social media, other interpersonal skills may either be lost or developed. One of the key social interpersonal skill is conflict handling which relies heavily on communication. The article sheds focus on it as well.


The younger generation and the modern culture has witnessed communication being turned into a social dialogue by social media. According to Qualman, (2009), social media is rated as the number use of the Internet which is an always growing percentage. The connectivity throughout the globe has thus been growing. Therefore there are people who meet through the internet. Dependency on social media has thus been growing. Looking at why so many individuals are growing the admiration for social media, the impact it has on users and society is critical. The literature reviewed seems to be focusing on how addiction to social media relate with interpersonal relationships.

Social Media Use

Uses and Gratifications Theory was used to study social media use (Sheldon, 2008). In this study, Sheldon aimed at discovering reasons as to why students had grown in addiction to Facebook use. Frequent checks on Facebook accounts had grown to be routine behaviour. The reasons for always being online were entertainment and diversion, to keep informed, good feelings, peer identity, sounds and sights, communication, coolness and career (Charney & Greenberg, 2001). The above thus highlights why social media becomes a variable in the satisfaction of a relationship.

Media and Relationships

Both mobile and web-based technologies have presented newer forms of media which now allows the users to be more interactive considering the content. Such technologies have created an interactive platform in which communities and individuals share, modify and create user generated content (Kietzmenn et. al, 2011). User generated content has grown over the years to the present state in which the aspects now associated with social media are identity being the most important, presence, reputation, relationships, groups, conversations and sharing. One’s identity in the internet is revealed by the extent of disclosure (Kietzmenn et. al, 2011).

Although technology can be critical in beginning relationships, it may be the key contributor in the ending of a relationship. According to Brown (2011), social media creates virtual and natural distance thus it allows for individuals to conduct unpleasant interpersonal skills. This demonstrates the negative effects of social media in a relationship. The presence of an individual is not key in a breakup process as social media could be employed as the mediator. In virtual communications, there are options for social network sites, e-mail, text messaging, cell phones, even webcams and blogs. Each of these mediums has a key role in the maintenance, initiation and relationship termination (Coyne et. al, 2011).

Most couples turn to a given kind of communication and maintain certain media forms. Text messaging is a common form because it is accessible while other aspects such as Facebook demonstrate affection. Messaging is first thus an immediate way in which partners can demonstrate immediate affection. Ideally it is difficult to predict how social media will affect interpersonal relationships in future, however, researchers have focused to identify the effects that have been recorded so far. At this point, the researchers have shifted focus to cyber-optimists and cyber-pessimists. The latter is of the view that Internet has a negative effect on social life while cyber-optimists maintain the effect could be positive (Pollet et. al, 2011). The researchers identify some relationships are dependent on social media.

Internet Dependency

Looking at the average use in American homes of technology, Kelly (2011) believes that technological revolution time has been attained. People now access what they desire within the blink of an eye. Internet dependency is about how individuals have made internet to become a priority in most of their day to day activities. The growing nature of the media and the internet further elaborates the need on analysing relationship dependency.

Interpersonal Relationship Satisfaction

Interpersonal relationships’ interactions can be conducted nonverbally, verbally and currently, computer-mediated communication and social media allows for the interaction to be virtual. Usefulness of communication is determined by interpersonal relationship satisfaction. The content of the communication and future interactions are also key (Anderson & Emmers-Sommer, 2006). According to many psychologists, satisfaction in a close relationship means that there is adequate communication in addition to comfort during the interaction at hand. Communication satisfaction results to closeness, immediacy with increased disclosure to the relational partner.

Satisfaction in a given relationship refers to the notch to which an individual is not only satisfied but also content with her or his relationship. When the degree is high, the relationship may turn out to be lengthy and successful. Determinants of a relationship satisfaction include trust, intimacy, similarity, commitment, attribution confidence and communication satisfaction (Anderson & Emmers-Sommer, 2006). The higher the rate of this predictors, the higher the satisfaction rates.

Internet is easily and often accessed thus it has changed how we conduct our communication thereby influencing the present quality of romantic relationships. In a relationship, satisfaction sprouts from a positive level of contentment, needs, wants and expectations being met by a partner as well as having a mutually beneficial position in the relationship. Face-to-face interactions improve relationship satisfaction with nonverbal communication being a key area (Emmers-Sommer, 2004). According to Anderson & Emmers-Sommer (2006), there is direct relationship between relationship satisfaction and partner communication. They added that face-to-face communication are key in the maintain ace of relationship satisfaction.

Social Media and Relationship Satisfaction

Individuals in online relationships do not have the ability to physically see each other. As a result therefore, there is great need that communication satisfaction is attained. The online platform is thus a base for which the relationship could grow, be maintained and satisfaction of each other. Communication lengths and terminology are existing examples of familiarity that exists between online interactions and face-to-face communication. In the current world, Twitter, Facebook and text messaging are part of the relationship life cycle in which many partnerships for men in the range of 18-24 spend a lot of time in social media.

Implications of Social Media on Relationships

Most of the young adults currently use social media multiple times a day for relationship purposes and communication. Social media is appealing in that it has content that is user-generated and dynamic as well. Social media accessibility gives user the authority to remain connected with people and they can thus contact each other frequently. Studies have found out that relationship satisfaction depends mainly on communication which could imply that the medium for communication does not necessarily matter. Individuals aged 18-24 are fond of both Facebook and Twitter. Understanding intentions and motivations in the mediums is one of the key factors that would advise on whether an individual has priority for relationships. The two provide critical information as well as communication and this becomes an integral psychological need for which people grow, survive and learn. The concern hereby should be how dependency on social media is influencing the modern medium for communication. Face-to-face communication has received neglect as individuals are adopting text messaging as the priority medium. It is a utilization of modern technology in the increase and improvement of communication for interpersonal relationships.

Understanding such implications is essential for relationships improvement and social media communication. With more frequent use of social media in modern life, individuals can still find a way of maintaining an interpersonal relationship that is satisfying through these or other mediums. As a result therefore, communication in social media should improve quality relationship and not cause negative effects.

Social Networking and Conflict Resolution

The social media platform allows interaction for people who know each other as well as individuals who have absolutely no clue about each other. Most internet users have ended up co-constructing their own environment. In this environment, each participant has a social role to play. According to Greenfield and Yan (2006), any individual who might be affected by the social media environment especially for being a participant creates a new environment and they thus have a dual core in controlling technological side-effects thus large scale implications.

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Communication has an integral role to play in personal relationships. In essence, relationships can be assessed by communication skills. Therefore, communication impairment hinders successful relational development especially for the young adults. There are impacts on various sets of life areas such as socialization, employment, school performance and family relationships. In addition, the mere fact that the young adults may fail to resolve conflicts may end up jeopardizing safety which could then result to chronic acts of violence that include fighting, verbal threats, pushing, punching and grabbing (Woody, 2001). The development of interpersonal skill in handling conflicts may be impacted by the excessive use of modern technology.

Conflict Resolution and Communication Skills

The most important use of the Internet for adolescents is communication (Greenfield & Yan, 2006). Responses to hypothetical conflict situations in the social media industry is similar to the responses in real life. The decline observed in the face-to-face interaction would imply that there is decreased potential in handling of real-life conflicts. To support thus, Mishna (2009) found that in his research, adolescents recorded high cases of conflicts with parents in addition to communication levels that were still low with their parents. In addition, the research indicated that the adolescents who frequently used online communication and were in significant trouble or were frightened failed to reach out and have face-to-face communication with their parents. At this point, it is key to note that such adolescents miss out on a psychological development in which they should receive education on handling conflicts from parents. For social media, just like face to face communication, a relationship may turn to be volatile and unpredictable.

In adopting the social exchange theory, psychologists indicate that the principle of maximizing benefits while minimizing costs is prominent in social behaviour. This is applicable in conflict resolution. One must give to receive. For maximum satisfaction, the degree of expected rewards has to be greater than the degree of expected costs expended during interaction. For the social exchange theory, Ripa and Carrasco (2007) maintain that the six major rewards are both intangible and tangible. They include information, services, goods, status, money and love. The social exchange theory is influenced by the role of psychological, social, political, economic and historical factors. Technologically therefore, exchanges between individuals should capture a mutual cost-benefit structure (Drussell, 2012). The energy and time that one spends in texting, comments’ posting and Facebook updates directly perceives rewards of responses and likes.

The sense of power can be endured in social media especially with high number of followers, friends, likes, comments and shares. While that may exist, the opposite may occur for which an individual has minimal of the above. It would thus mean that fear and rejection grows in them. In addition, the objects relations theory is applicable for this scenario. Psychologists differentiate this theory from the rest on the basis that it pays attention on how needs are not met or are met in a relationship. This contrasts the idea of impulses and drives. In this theory, external needs should be met by other people. The external needs are inclusive of being valued and viewed as individual by others, being accepted for both negative and positive qualities and being given protection, love and care (Ripa & Carrasco, 2007). Internet-based communication and texting facilitate a relationship world that is virtual. It allows users to internalize other people’s mental representations. With the absence of face-to-face communication, the participants rely on constructions to incorporate meaning and imagination to such relationships. As a result therefore, users’ internal worlds may be vastly different from the facts that they present in the social networking environment. The conflict resolution process is complicated and communication as the reality facts may be hidden in the interactions.

According to Drussell, (2012), texting and Facebook have failed at improving the ability in resolving conflicts. In the study, it was identified that despite the fact there were many individuals who adopted social media and used it frequently, in most cases they did not turn to it when solving conflicts. The study deduced the fact that most young adults deemed it wise to solve conflicts on a face-to-face communication. However, there were concerns in which case social media users did not personally know each other and had a considerable distance between them. For such cases, when conflict arose, it was probably never revisited. Such a relationship would be difficult to mend through social media and a large population would prefer to abandon it entirely.


The basis for conflict resolution and relationship satisfaction lies on communication. Social networking seems to facilitate communication at various levels. Social network users vary along continuum which is inclusive of negative, neutral and positive attitudes. Regardless of the attitude, the literature review indicates that communications may be misinterpreted during these kinds of communication. That is one of the weakness that social networking has in comparison to face-to-face communication. The communication aspect that is strengthened by social media makes friendship even stronger. The major worry for many individuals is that social media and networking seems to be causing a deterioration of persons’ ability to talk with each other. The face-to-face talk is the one suffering in the face of prominent social media dependency. Social media can be a source of conflict in the relationships, the best approach in handling such a conflict should be face-to-face communication and interaction.

Going by the literature reviewed, social media users do not feel unsatisfied in interpersonal relationships that they engage in. The observation is that, social media improves satisfaction in a relationship as it brings about the issue of frequent interactions. Long distance relationships benefit from this interaction though further psychological based research should be done in relation to it. Technology will keep on evolving for which case social media prominence will still persist. Further research on the impacts of social media prominence is essential to understand how society will be impacted.


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