WASHINGTON - Heavy Twitter use can lead to conflicts and other damaging effects on marriages and romantic relationships, a study said Thursday.

The study followed up on previous research which showed similar impacts for Facebook and raises questions about whether social network use in general is bad for relationships. The study appearing in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that ‘active Twitter use leads to greater amounts of Twitter-related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce.’

The author, University of Missouri doctoral researcher Russell Clayton, concluded that these findings add to the evidence about social network use’s dark side for personal relationships. Clayton’s research published in the same journal last year found that a high level of Facebook usage was associated with ‘negative relationship outcomes.’

The journal’s editor-in-chief Brenda Wiederhold said these findings highlight the need for more study on social network use. ‘Since much of the social networking research is in its infancy, we do not know if other media, such as Instagram will also impact relationships in a negative way,’ she said in a statement. The latest study surveyed 581 adult Twitter users, asking about how often they use the social network and about what conflicts arose between participants’ current or former partners as a result of Twitter use.

Clayton found that the more often a respondent reported being active on Twitter, the more likely they were to experience Twitter-related conflict with a partner. The results ‘partially replicate’ Clayton’s earlier research on Facebook use and negative relationship outcomes, he wrote. ‘Based on the findings from both studies, Twitter and Facebook use can have damaging effects on romantic relationships,’ he said in the study. ‘That is, when (social networking) use becomes problematic in one’s romantic relationship, risk of negative relationship outcomes may follow.’

Clayton analysed each participant’s tweets before asking them questions about their relationships. He measured the time users spent on Twitter, conflicts arising from their use, and the impact it had on their relationship.

Couples often fell out over the time each of them was spending on the network, but also how friendly they were becoming with others. However, this impact was lessened among those who shared a Twitter account, he told the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking. Infidelity was classed as emotional and physical cheating.