The increasing use of social media is partly to blame for China’s rising divorce rate, experts said, after a new report from the Ministry of Civil Affairs found that 3.63 million couples split last year—up 3.91 percent from the year before.
The report also found that the divorce rate in China has steadily been rising since 2003.
Liu Mingsheng, an expert in marriage and family law research at China Law Society, explained that over 50 percent of last year’s divorce cases were associated with extramarital affairs. Online messaging platforms and apps including WeChat, Momo and QQ provide a channel for users to meet and get to know new people easily, making them one of of China’s most problematic “marriage killers”, he said.
Liu used the ‘Shake’ function in WeChat as an example. Users need only tap their finger to find people nearby and start chatting. Meanwhile, increasing engagement with social media can reduce the amount face-to-face communication between couples, which is essential in maintaining a healthy relationship.
“If a housewife uses WeChat day and night it can create incompatibility between the couple and stop them communicating,” Liu added.
Zhao Yulong, the Associate Head of the Department of Social Work at National University of Singapore, agreed that instant messaging apps can easily lead to extramarital affairs, partly due to the “unrealistic conversations” between parties. Online conversations are more casual, allowing people feel more comfortable talking and developing feelings.
Rising use of social media, however, is only partially to blame for China’s surging divorce rate. “Sham divorces,” where couples split and then remarry to get around restrictions on buying property or sending their kids to school, are also a huge factor.
By Crystal Lau
[Images via Apple Daily]