Are online behaviors damaging our in-person connections? Passive versus active social media use on romantic relationships


Social media has been extensively researched, and its impact on well-being is becoming more clear. What is less clear, however, is the role of social media on romantic relationships, with the few existing studies finding mixed results. In an attempt to reconcile these discrepancies, the current study explored types of social media use (i.e., active use and passive use) as moderators between frequency of social media use and relationship health (i.e., relationship satisfaction and commitment). Participants were 432 adults in a romantic relationship for at least three months. Results showed that women who passively use social media at moderate to high levels exhibited negative associations between hours per day of social media use and relationship satisfaction, and hours per day of social media use and commitment. On the other hand, active use may ameliorate the negative association between hours per day of social media use and relationship health for both women and men. Specifically, men and women reporting low levels of active use exhibited a stronger negative association between hours per day of social media use and relationship health than those who reported moderate levels of active use. Additionally, there was no association between hours per day of social media use and relationship health for men and women reporting high levels of active use. Implications of these findings are discussed, as well as future directions based on these findings.

Bibliographic citation

Quiroz, S. I., & Mickelson, K. D. (2021). Are online behaviors damaging our in-person connections? Passive versus active social media use on romantic relationships. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 15(1), Article 1. doi:


Romantic relationships; social media use; passive use; active use; gender differences; relationship satisfaction; commitment

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