英语点津 As many as half of Facebook users are risking psychological damage from using the site to spy on ex lovers, according to new research.
Two of the most cited reasons for accessing Facebook are to keep in touch with others and to surreptitiously monitor them - with between a third and half of users using it to check up on ex-partners.
With close to a billion users, it means hundreds of millions may be finding it more difficult to get over a broken romance.
Psychologist Dr Tara Marshall said in the past, such spying and keeping tabs with what your ex was up to was challenging.
You could try and pry information from his or her friends, telephone, or drop by their place, but it was usually unlikely you would turn up much useful information.
This made it easy for people to distance themselves from the relationship and move on - an emotionally healthy breakup.
But as long as you remain 'friends' with your ex on Facebook, they are now able to keep up with everything you are doing.
While satisfying a certain curiosity factor, it seems likely that it would make it far more difficult to actually emotionally distance yourself from your past relationship.
In a survey of 464 participants, most of whom were undergraduate students, she found people who remain Facebook friends with an ex-partner will experience poorer breakup adjustment and personal growth relative to those who do not.
The findings suggest continued online exposure to an ex-romantic partner may inhibit post-breakup recovery.
Notably, frequent monitoring of an ex-partner's Facebook page and list of friends was associated with greater distress.
Dr Brenda Wiederhold, editor of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the research, added: "This study sees again virtual life mirroring real life.
"Just as real life contact with ex-partners may inhibit growth, healing, and well-being, so may virtual contact."