Researchers from the University of Virginia and Brigham Young University teamed up to publish a study on infidelity and social media. The report titled “iFidelity: The State of Our Unions 2019” reveals that younger individuals are putting their relationships at risk because of looser online boundaries, according to UVA Today.

The iFidelity report is based on surveys conducted nationwide asking Americans questions about their views on home life and the health of their marriages. Individuals born into the baby boomer, millennial, Gen X and silent/greatest generation, which includes individuals over the age of 75, participated in the survey.

Attitudes concerning online activities examined

The questions asked covered the respondents’ attitudes towards relationships and sought to determine how online activity in the virtual world could affect real life relationships. The representative sampling used in the study included 2,000 U.S. single, co-habitating and married respondents. The objective of the research was to discover if there are links between sexual infidelity online and the quality of relationships between men and women in the real world.

Some notable findings from the study

  • Couples who erected strong online boundaries to protect themselves from potential external sexual and romantic partners are reportedly happier.
  • Among the millennials surveyed, 18% who are currently in relationships stated that they engaged in online sexual discussions with another person who is not their partner.
  • The majority of Americans surveyed believed that having an emotional relationship online or sexting with someone secretly is “cheating” or being “unfaithful.”

Crossing online boundaries may sink a relationship or marriage

The researchers believe that all age groups should take the issue of iFidelity seriously, even though their work shows that younger couples who have grown up in the internet-based world may be the least likely to do so. The study’s authors warn that individuals who do not set the appropriate electronic boundaries in their virtual-world explorations may pay an unexpected price in their real-world relationships. As noted by the Institute for Family Studies, the author of an earlier related research project recommends that married couples proactively discuss and set online boundaries before problems arise.