This study explored the perceptions of married individuals in Zimbabwe regarding how social
networking, Facebook in particular, influences marital relationships. The specific objective
was the exploration of the major reasons for Facebook usage among married individuals with
the intended aim of establishing its positive and negative influences on marital relationships.
Data collection was by use of in-depth interviews and a semi-structured interview guide.
Purposive sampling and snow balling were used in selecting participants. The sample size,
due to budgetary constraints, consisted of only 16 married individuals from the Gwabalanda
community who had been married for at least two years, had been users of Facebook for
more than a year, and who log in to their Facebook account more than thrice a week. The
sample was categorised into two age groups: those aged 35years and above and those aged
34years and below to explore the views of the older and younger cohorts.
The study found out that Facebook has increasingly become a means of communication in
Zimbabwe; both for the young and the elderly. Married individuals have made use of the site
for various reasons among which the following are included: it is efficient, cheaper,
convenient and reliable even for business and job purposes. However, major findings of the
study suggested that many married people were of the view that Facebook has more negative
influence on marital relationships. Facebook is resented for having made it easier for married
people to connect with different people and for some to re-connect with ex-lovers thereby
resulting in issues of infidelity amongst partners. As partners spend more time online,
feelings of jealousy are invoked leading to creation of tensions. It was also revealed that the
use of Facebook has resulted in conflicts due to lack of trust due to partner surveillance
amongst married partners. The study also showed that Facebook has some positive influence
in that it has allowed people far from each other to remain connected and to maintain
relationships online. It has also given a platform for marriage discussion forums where
married individuals discuss marital problems and advice one another.
The study concludes with a number of recommendations for further study including further
study on the dimensions for the increased use of Facebook in Zimbabwe and an exploration
of the socio-economic and demographic profile of users. It argued that the answers to these
and under similar questions can help contribute to the overall study of family sociology in
terms of factors that contribute, or have the potential to lead, to marital instability.
Mini Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2016.