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How the internet can impact on our relationships

The internet is great for keeping up with people, but it's important it doesn't get in the way of offline connections


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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The internet can be amazing. It provides us with an abundance of information on different topics. It offers opportunities for education and training, entertainment and communication that we’ve never had before. 

While the internet can help us to stay connected with friends and relatives all around the world, it can also affect  our relationships, and it's important to be aware of this and make sure that your online use doesn't get in the way of your offline relationships.

How can the internet impact on relationships?

Social media and the internet have become very important in our relationships today. They allow us to communicate and keep up to date with friends and family. Here are some of the ways the internet can impact our relationships:

Adding to real life relationships

The internet allows people to keep in touch with people they might not see that often. It can be a great asset to people with friends or family who live far away, and it makes it easier to keep connections with people you might have lost touch with if it wasn’t for the internet.

It can also enhance friendships, allowing people to share more of their lives with their friends. When people use the internet as a way to communicate, as well as regular interaction in real life, it can be a very positive thing. 

Getting in the way of person relationships

If people start to prioritise online communication over offline communication, it can become an issue. Human beings are a social species that rely on face-to-face communication. If a lot of your communication is online, you might not feel emotionally fulfilled by it. Face-to-face communication involves more than words, it also involves body language and tends to hold more emotional weight.

Sometimes face-to-face communication can be difficult or lead to uncomfortable situations. It can also highlight things that might bother you or that you find annoying. While this might not be enjoyable at first, they can help you grow as a person.

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Understanding how others feel

Empathy is the ability to share someone's feelings. When communicating online, we don’t see someone's reactions or body language. These are important in understanding how another person feels or ‘putting ourselves in their shoes’. People can say things online and not even realise how hurtful or bad they were. In person, it might be easier to pick up on how someone feels.

However, the internet can also positively affect empathy. People can share personal stories and experiences, bringing light to issues that might not have been talked about previously.

Higher risk of miscommunication

Body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions are important for communicating how you feel and what you mean. This is lost with online communication. It can be much harder to understand what someone means online, and something you said online could end up upsetting someone, which might not have happened if they could see your body language or hear your voice when you said it. 

This kind of miscommunication can have a negative impact on relationships, so it's important to be open and tell someone if you're upset by something they said, and try to be clear when you send messages if you are being sarcastic or making a joke.

Being aware of how the internet can affect your offline relationships means you can use it to benefit you. It’s convenient to be able to organise plans with friends and to keep in touch with people who live further away.

Try to balance your time spent talking to people online with spending time together offline too.

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Published April 5th2020
Last updated June 7th2020
Tags dcl digital citizenship
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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