Facebook increases divorce rate among adults

That “poke” may not be as innocent as you think.

Recent studies suggest that the prominence of social networking websites may be leading to a higher rate of divorce among Americans aged 50 or over. Experts believe that adults approaching retirement age may have been unprepared for a technological revolution that allows them to reconnect with long-lost friends or lovers, according to Bloomberg.

Divorce lawyers have confirmed the trend. In a study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of surveyed divorce attorneys said the number of cases they have involving social networking sites has increased over the last five years. Facebook was the main culprit, with 66 percent of lawyers saying the popular website was the main source of online divorce evidence among their clients.

Nancy Kalish, a professor of psychology at California State University, Sacramento, told Bloomberg that social network websites may lead to an “accidental affair,” a term she said refers to individuals who don’t initially set out to have a physical or emotional relationship outside of their marriage. In addition, Kalish stressed that some of these people would not have strayed if the Internet had not made it possible to easily connect with others.

“They still bear responsibility for the affairs, of course; no one made them write, call or meet in a hotel room,” Kalish said. “But these are probably people who would not have cheated years ago, even with a lost love.”

About 3.4 out of every 1,000 U.S. marriages end in divorce, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nevada had the highest divorce rate in the nation in 2009, followed by Arkansas, West Virginia and Wyoming.