Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

How are marriages on the dock because of social media? The likes of Facebook have made it easy to contact virtually anyone who is online with a simple search. So you see, old flames and prospects for a new affair can also be contacted at a click!

The increasing rate of marital discord in the UAE has gotten experts really concerned. According to an article recently published in Khaleej Times, Naser Al Riyami, a psychologist at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) in Abu Dhabi, said the Internet is a great tool for connecting people, but addiction to online flirting may cause marital problems. The same report also quoted Dr Dolly Habbal, clinical psychologist and head of the department at Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Dr Habbal said, “Romantic reunions with past partners are more common than ever, due to the ease of finding people online.”

When social media wasn’t around, reconnecting with an old flame or contacting someone discreetly was very difficult, as it entailed getting personal information such as mobile number or email address, but social media has removed such barriers by making people’s profiles publicly available to contact.

What starts as ‘harmless catching up’ online in most cases leads to an intense conversation between people. Usually, things come to light after an online relationship starts to have a tangible impact on a marital relationship. As the Khaleej Times report rightly mentions, “A spouse chatting with an ex-lover may also cause emotional and physical cheating that can eventually lead to separation. Problems created by social media feature highly in couple’s lives and the increasing number of divorce cases is strongly associated with the abuse of social media.”

Instead of couples retiring to bed together and discussing their family, work and children, they opt to stay up and be on social media in the evenings and engage with friends.

According to the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi (SCAD) report, 1,922 divorce cases were recorded in 2016, compared to 1,813 the previous year.