University of Missouri study: Divorcing parents abusing social media

By September 5, 2012Child Custody

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Technology is changing how we live and how we stop living together. A new University of Missouri study indicates that separating, divorcing and divorced couples are more than ever using technology to communicate with — and sometimes strike back at — their former spouses.

Researchers say children are the ones who suffer most when parents use technology — such as e-mails, texts and social media — to manipulate or withhold information from their ex-wives or ex-husbands.

The researchers suggest counselors could help teach parents positive ways to use technology to communicate effectively and in healthful, helpful ways for their children.

A professor of human development and family studies at the university says that divorced people who still function as parents in cooperation with each other will use communication technologies to make co-parenting easier, while parents who at odds with each other will often use the technology to manipulate information and control access to their children.

“Technology makes it easier for divorced couples to get along, and it also makes it easier for them not to get along,” he said.

He added that parents using e-mails, social media sites and texting to manipulate their kids, spread disinformation or to direct information from their former spouses “can cause pain to the child.”

The professor and his colleagues interviewed 49 divorced parents — a small sample size — about their relationships with their former spouses.

Positive uses emerged from the interviews: parents coordinating exchanges of their kids, and sharing a calendar to keep track of school events, doctors’ appointments, etc. However, some parents used the technology as weapons.

Our family law firm assists parents dealing with divorce. For more information, visit our St. Louis child custody page.

Source: University of Missouri News Bureau, “Divorced Parents in Hostile Relationships Use Technology to Sabotage Communication, MU Study Finds,” Jerett Rion, Aug. 27, 2012