Is social media addiction breaking up marriages in UAE?

Top reasons for divorce included infidelity, lack of communication, job loss, social media, and unrealistic expectations.

Social media addiction is taking a toll on family life, with husbands and wives glued to their phones instead of interacting with each other and their children. And, according to a judicial official in Abu Dhabi, this lack of real communication at home has been leading to disputes ­and, worse, divorce.

Dr Saeed Al Darmaki, director of family guidance and alternative solutions at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, said they were witnessing a high rate of family disputes resulting from couples’ excessive use of social media.

“Spouses are spending a lot of time on phones chatting with other people on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other social media sites while they are at home, thereby not getting enough moments to speak or communicate with each other,” said Al Darmaki.

“Addiction to social media is really a very bad habit. It’s distancing spouses living in the same house because they don’t have time for meaningful talks about their marriage or intimate communication.

“We are seeing many cases of family disputes that often result in divorce because of lack of proper communication between spouses, caused by excessive use of social media.”

Al Darmaki gave a lecture over the weekend about the dangers of social media and their impact on family life, as part of the judicial department’s ‘Our Councils’ meetings, intended to raise awareness in the community.

According to figures released last year by the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi (SCAD), over 28 per cent of couples who got divorced in 2017 did not complete one full year of marriage and more than 52 per cent spent less than three years in wedlock.

The report said that a total of 1,859 divorce cases were recorded in 2017, compared to 1,922 the previous year.

The top reasons for divorce included infidelity, poor or lack of communication, job loss or financial strain, social media, religious and cultural differences, and unrealistic expectations.

Abu Dhabi lawyer Ali Al Abadi, who handles cases involving family disputes, said many young couples separate because of poor or lack of communication.

“The lack of proper communication between married couples can sometimes lead to the escalation of family disputes, ending up in separation,” he said.

“Social media was also intensifying the problem of lack of communication among couples, as each becomes busy chatting with others and don’t get enough time to speak with each other about their marriage and family matters.”

Children being neglected

Al Darmaki has also noted that parents spending many hours on social media after returning home from work have been creating a wide gap between them and their children. They usually couldn’t spare some time to speak to the kids or find out what they think or what happened in school.

“Some parents are no longer getting enough time for their children because of social media. This is very bad for children who also end up spending their time surfing the Internet and playing video games,” he said.

The official has advised parents to always make time for their children. They must also supervise the kids’ activities online to prevent them from visiting inappropriate websites and protect them from blackmailers, cyber bullies and other online criminals.