Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Communication

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Communication
Electronic communications are quick and convenient. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Electronic communication is fast, cost-effective and convenient, but these attributes contain inherent disadvantages. The technology that enables people to keep in touch at all times also can invade privacy and cut into valuable relaxation time.

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Mobility

Devices such as cell phones with mobile communication technology and portable laptops enable people to stay in touch with friends and co-workers at all times. This lets you work and go online in public locations, such as trains and in cafes, and has enabled people to avoid travelling long distances to work from home. It also encourages productivity. For example, someone who has to meet a professional deadline could save valuable time by working on a laptop on the train or bus trip to work.

Speed and Convenience

Electronic communication is convenient and usually instantaneous. It dispenses with the need to mail or fax documents that can be safely backed up online or on portable electronic devices to protect against loss or theft. These attributes facilitate research and learning. Someone with a complicated health problem might gain invaluable information from an authoritative medical website. Universities can save time and money by posting study materials on campus websites.

Security

Electronic communication leaves people vulnerable to cyber attacks from online criminals and can pose a physical threat, particularly to children, as online chat rooms can attract predators who pose as peers to gain trust and personal information. It also potentially exposes children to pornographic images. Installing a firewall and keeping security software up to date helps protect against viruses and hackers. Parents can protect children by installing software that blocks sexual content and by using safe search engines.

Distraction

Distractions and interruptions caused by electronic communication compromise quality time and can even damage your intelligence quotient, or IQ, according to a 2005 study by Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at King's College London University, that was commissioned by Hewlett-Packard. Dr. Wilson found that the IQ of people who continuously monitored their e-mail when working dipped by 10 points over the course of the working day, the equivalent of losing a night's sleep. People often feel compelled to check e-mail and text messages even when they are not working and are vulnerable to interruptions from employers and coworkers outside office hours.

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