Implications of the Internet
have positive or negative implications for interpersonal relationships in our
While the internet can be an extremely useful tool in which people can it for just about anything, it does have both negative and positive implications, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships within our society. While some may argue that the internet has increased the ability for people to communicate, others argue that it just doesn’t compare to good ‘ole fashioned, face to face conversation.
According to one research study on the subject performed in the mid-1990s, “reports concluded that Internet use led to negative outcomes for the individual user, such as increases in depression and loneliness, and neglect of existing close relationships” (Bargh & McKenna, 2004). This would seemingly make sense because people are not side-by-side or face-to-face, and therefore are not benefitting from social interactions with other people. However, the same researchers who conducted this study had gone back some years later and conducted another study on the same sample from the initial study. This time, they found that “negative effects had disappeared, and instead across nearly all measures of individual adjustment and involvement with family, friends, and community, greater Internet use was associated with positive psychological and social outcomes” (Bargh & McKenna, 2004). If you think of all of the possible uses for the Internet in today’s world, it would simply make sense that people are better able to communicate with others with this wonderful technology. People use it every day to communicate with friends and family on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and also use email communications as well to keep in touch and talk to friends and family.
Interpersonal communication via the Internet has created such an easy, simple way for people to talk to one another, despite the fact that they aren’t actually speaking, but are simply rather typing to one another. “In many cases, the Internet seems to have created a new way of doing old things, rather
than being a technology that changes the manner in which people live their lives. As a consequence, the policy implications of increasing Internet use may be less than is often believed” (Tyler, 2002). This idea presents further evidence that increased use of the Internet is not actually causing decreased social interactions like many people seem to believe. If you consider a person who is very shy and/or socially withdrawn, perhaps even ‘socially awkward,’ the use of the Internet for communication is a tremendous benefit to this person, mainly because it takes away any fear or anxiety that they may be feeling when having to communicate with someone, putting them much more at ease to have a simple conversation with another person.
Another example to take into consideration would be that people who work odd hours compared to the general norm can use the Internet to communicate with friends and family whom they might not necessarily get to see or speak to often because of their different work schedule. The Internet can be a very beneficial tool in enhancing and maintaining interpersonal communication between friends and family, regardless of the situation. There is still the option to have a face-to-face conversation with a person, or speak to a person over the phone, but having the Internet as an additional tool to use for communication surely enhances interpersonal communication for just about anyone who might use it.
Although people may argue that sitting in front of a computer to communicate, rather than have a face-to-face conversation with someone will decrease interpersonal communication, there is surely much more to take into consideration to prove otherwise. The Internet is simply a fast, easy way to communicate with others, no matter how you might use it for communication.
Bargh, J.A. & McKenna, K.Y.A. (2004). The Internet and Social Life. Annual Review of Psychology,
Tyler, T.R., (2002). Is the Internet Changing Social Life? Journal of Social Issues, 58, 195-205.