Bernie Hogan of the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford in England said too much social media activity may damage strong relationships.
Hogan and colleagues tested the theory of "media multiplexity," the ability to communicate via several communications channels, which was first developed in 2005. The theory suggested there is a clear link between the number of media channels used to communicate, the frequency with which they are used and the strength of relationship ties.
"This theory was first put forward in an era of email, chat and telephone conversations. However, we are now firmly in the age of digital communication with social media really taking off," Hogan said in a statement. "We wanted to see if these more diverse communications channels strengthened relationship ties in the digital era."
More than 24,000 people in marital relationships took part in the research, using 10 media channels.
"We found that those using more media tend to report no greater relationship satisfaction and some even reported decreasing satisfaction," Hogan said. "This work suggests that media, which now includes online social media, still operates as a signal of ties of strength in relationships. However there may be a cut-off point after which the increasing complexity of maintaining so many separate communications threads starts to undermine relationship ties."
The findings were presented as part of a symposium about the impact of online social media at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society.