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Computer mediated communication has changed the way people communicate with one another. Computer mediated communication (CMC) is defined as any type of conversation or communication that is done through an electronic medium. Present forms of CMC used include email, instant messaging, and social media sites. There are two forms of computer mediated communication, synchronous communication and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication is communication that happens in real-time, meaning both parties are engaged in the communication together. Examples of synchronous communication include a phone call, video call, and Skype. Asynchronous communication does not happen in real time, meaning the sender might not receive a response immediately from the receiver after sending the message. Examples of asynchronous communication include sending a private message on Facebook or replying to a blog post. Recent experience with adolescents and young adults has revealed an intense interest and involvement in using emailing, instant messaging, group chats, social network and other popular forms of CMC for contacting new people and for keeping in touch with people they know. CMC is an integral part of modern daily life, especially for teenagers and young adults. There are several effects of CMC on social functioning and psychological well-being, both positive and negative. Social functioning is the capability of effectively interacting with others by demonstrating ideal social skills. Psychological well-being includes mental health status and attitude towards life. Through various research and data collection, several outcomes have been developed.
Increased computer mediated communication use could have a negative or positive effect on psychological well-being and social involvement. In some cases, with CMC use, social involvement declines with family and friends. Furthermore, measurements of stress, depression and loneliness increase. In some cases, with CMC use, social involvement does not change with family and friends. Furthermore, measurements of stress, depression and loneliness decrease.
Computer mediated communication is not restricted in regard to time and place. Communication can happen anytime, anywhere. People do not need to be available at the same time in order to communicate and do not need to be at the same place either.
Some research suggests that CMC provides disclosure of one’s true self. Forms of CMC can be beneficial to a user’s self-identity and well-being. Psychological well-being is promoted when an individual can work towards discovery of their true self, enabling them to express them self freely through interactions with others. CMC enables individuals to express themselves freely, because there are no expectations or constraints on what individuals post or send. CMC helps one to overcome the relationship initiation barriers that are caused by reasons such as shyness, appearance or physical limitations. CMC allows for self-expression, enabling expression of true self without feeling afraid.
Computer mediated communication encourages healthy and close relationships. Self-disclosure, validation, and acceptance facilitate the establishment of close relationships. Close relationships are quickly formed when self-disclosure is responded to with empathy and understanding. The anonymous nature of CMC allows users to be more accepting of the person they are communicating with since they do not have much information to judge the person.
Computer mediated communication allows users more opportunities to communicate with others. Communication increases the probability of having fulfilled personal relationships and increases commitment to social norms. Communication also helps improve levels of social support, raises self-esteem, psychological and physical well-being.
Computer mediated communication benefits connections by allowing for an expansion of one’s social network and for often continuous interactions with those whom they do not encounter face-to-face. This continuous connection can allow individuals to feel closer to their friends, and so benefit their social relationships and perceived social support. People value the ability to connect with friends, even when they are geographically apart, and communication with others regardless of physical distance has become a part of their social norm.
CMC can be used in classroom environments to help benefit the learning experience and develop learners’ communicative competence to a certain extent. Furthermore, computer mediated communication encourages learner autonomy, motivation, social equality and identity in classroom environments.
Whether CMC has a positive or negative social impact depends on the quality of people’s online relationships. CMC provides ease and convenience which may result in people spending more time alone communicating using the internet instead of being socially engaged with family and friends. Research points out that face-to-face interactions provide higher quality social interactions in comparison to CMC. Time spent alone communicating using forms of CMC can negatively affect social involvement and psychological well-being by increasing loneliness and depression. Lack of face-to-face communications as a result of increased CMC can put children at risk of developing poor relationships, dropping out of school, developing mental health problems, and antisocial behavior. Increased computer mediated communication use reduces face-to-face engagement. With computer mediated communication, individuals replace quality face-to-face conversations and social involvement with CMC.
CMC connects people but negatively affects relationships through the absence of social cues necessary for effective and meaningful communication. CMC can trigger negative emotions such as stress, anger, and sadness, which is linked with poor mental health outcomes. Continued use of CMC is associated with outcomes such as loneliness and low self-esteem along with mental health issues such as depression and feelings of anxiousness. Cyberbullying is also a concern related to CMC as it elicits distressing emotions.
Computer mediated communication limits the fullness of communication. Communication includes socio-emotional and non-verbal cues which computer mediated communication lacks. This can cause misunderstandings due to wrong interpretations of the tone and meaning of words. Furthermore, confidentiality and trust are issues with computer mediated communication. With computer mediated communication, users are putting themselves out there. Any message or video sent or posted can be taped or saved by anyone. It is difficult to trust that the other person is telling the truth and if they are who they reveal them self as.
Computer mediated communication can be good or bad in regard to social functioning and psychological well-being of users. The consequences of CMC depend on the characteristics and goals of the individuals, groups, and communities using them. Whether CMC will have positive or negative social impact depends on what people give up to spend time using CMC.
Future research on computer mediated communication should include who benefits most from CMC use, and the effect of CMC on different individuals such as gender, age, and personality. Future research should continue to explore the risks of CMC use, especially those risks associated with online predictors.
There are several effects of CMC on social functioning and psychological well-being, both positive and negative. It is important to make time for face-to-face communication and not only rely on computer mediated communication. CMC cannot and should not replace face-to-face human interaction. CMC is an unavoidable part of our daily communication, and it also a tool that we use to simplify our lives. Care must be taken that we do not become overdependent on CMC in our daily communications. As responsible human beings, we must also make sure that we do not abuse the comfort CMC had given us. CMC can negatively affect relationships, can trigger negative emotions, can cause depression. CMC allows for social interaction without face-to-face contact, provides easy access to information and provides entertainment. There are beneficial aspects of CMC that help enhance lives and make communication easier. CMC should be used in moderation while keeping in mind confidentiality and trust.

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