JEFFERSON CITY (Missouri): E-mail, texting and social media may be effective communication tools for couples going through divorce, but a new study also shows that some are using the services less for good, and more for evil — at their children’s expense.
In a small study that examined the communication habits of 49 couples, researchers from the University of Missouri found that couples going through acrimonious divorces and separation were using technology as a weapon by either manipulating or withholding information and limiting access to their children.
For example, some parents in the study admitted to pretending that they had never received e-mail messages from their ex.
“Technology makes it easier for divorced couples to get along, and it also makes it easier for them not to get along,” said lead researcher Lawrence Ganong. “Parents who use technology effectively can make co-parenting easier, which places less stress on the children.”
For instance, those in co-operative relationships used communication tools to effectively coordinate the exchanges of their children. Among some of the most productive uses of the technology included using online calendars to share information about their kids’ activities.
“E-mail is a great resource for hostile parents who can’t talk face-to-face. They can communicate essential information while editing what they say to avoid conflict,” said Ganong. “Also, the parents have a record of what was agreed upon.”
Meanwhile, studies have shown that social media activities on Facebook are being increasingly cited in divorce petitions around the world. Lawyers in the United States, for instance, are likewise increasingly demanding to see a partner’s Facebook page as evidence, while some studies even cite the social network as the leading cause of divorce.
According to a British divorce website, for instance, 33% of divorce petitions last year contained the word “Facebook,” citing inappropriate online behaviour like flirting with the opposite sex and posting negative comments about their spouse. — AFP/Relaxnews 2012