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Can All That Time Spent On Social Media Be Killing Your Relationship?

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — He’s always on Facebook. Or tweeting. Maybe he’s discovered Instagram or he’s posting on Pinterest.

Is he losing interest … in you?

Can all that time being social with others be good for your relationship?

That is the question being asked in “Mixed Messages,” a special report on the CBS2 News at 11 p.m.

As Sharon Tay reports, some couples are finding social media getting in the way of their business.

“Email, phone, text, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook instant messenger,” David Vienna has them all.

The author of “Daddy Complex” has embraced social media from the time he first started blogging.

His wife of ten years, Larissa Collins, acknowledges that she isn’t as advanced.

“I’m like carrier pigeon, smoke signals … blimp,” she quips.

Collins said she resisted social media until her husband helped set up her accounts.

“I hate to break it to you but you do have an Instagram account, you do have a Twitter account, you have a Tumblr account,” Vienna tells his wife.

The couple says their relationship is, fortunately, happy and solid. Twin 5-year-old boys fill out the family.

They say they communicate successfully in person, by phone and by text message.

Collins remembers the time that her husband’s penchant for social media really bugged her.

“He was on it all the time —  all the time — and it drove me absolutely out of my mind,” she says.

While many people believe social media makes them closer, a study (conducted by Oxford University) of 24,000 married couples said couples who used a multiple number of social media platforms found “no greater relationship satisfaction” and some even reported “decreasing satisfaction.”

“Probably what they are finding is that people who are so over engaged in social media activities are not as engaged as the actual relationship. They’re too busy, they’re too busy on social media,” says Dr. Karen North, a social media expert who also teaches online communications at USC.

North was not involved in the Oxford study and questions what level of communication that couples had before they began interacting with social media.

“It’s not necessarily that social media even use of many channels interferes with relationships, it can enhance it. The question is, are you actually connecting with people or are you using social media as a nervous habit and a substitute for real relationships?,” North said.

Dr. North says couples need to discuss how much social media will play a role in their relationship.

“You have to decide, ‘how does this work for both of us in this relationship, what are the practices and standards that will keep both of us happy with each other,'” North believes.

Collins says the couple has now found a way to not let social media get in the way of their time together.

“We’ve balanced it out now,” she said.

Thanks to social media, Vienna’s blog is thriving. But he has also reigned in the time spent on social media.

“I’ve had a level of success though social media that I kind of take weekends off now. The weekends when it is real family time,” he said.

“We have a rule with the boys that there are no toys at the table,” Collins said.

And when it comes to communicating they are on the same page.

“Nothing beats face-to-face communication,” Vienna says.

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