The ongoing developments in the domain of information and communication technology (ICT) and other forms of convergent media continue to impact the society in general and individuals in particular. Upon realising that a research gap existed on how these advances in technology have socially impacted the community, Vera (2013) undertook a study aimed at unearthing how ICT has impacted the quality of interpersonal communication in social contexts. The author was concerned that the rapid technological and communication advances have acted to change the patterns of communication among people, as they no longer employ the face-to-face experience that holds interpersonal communication together. Vera (2013) singled out the Internet as one of the digitalised communication mediums that have completely shifted the way people interact across time and space.
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In the review of literature, Vera (2013) explained that effective interpersonal communication must depend on several components, which include “openness, empathy, supportiveness, positiveness, and equality” (p. 566). From the onset, the author assumed that interpersonal communication using digitalised forms of media could not achieve the same quality as face-to-face communication because it is increasingly difficult to guarantee these components.
In research methodology, it is important to note that the study used a qualitative research approach and a descriptive design to collect data from a sample of university students, lecturers, and parents in Jakarta. Data collection was through in-depth interviews and review of related literature, while data analysis was through content and thematic analysis (Vera, 2013). However, although the researcher recruited a sample of 10 respondents into the study (three lecturers, three parents, and four students), there is no information on how the sample was recruited into the research study.
The results of the study were interesting and informative, particularly in terms of revealing how the digital era has continued to impact the quality of interpersonal communication in contemporary times. In the content of the communication, it was found that individuals have different opinions about the content of the messages communicated as well as the respondents of these messages, implying that the choice of communication style (personal or digital) is determined by message content and nature of respondent. The reasons were given by respondents for using digitalised media to communicate include latitude to talk about anything, busy schedule, and freedom. The reasons are given for using face-to-face communication include capacity to guarantee closeness and intimacy, effect in expressing powerful feelings, and capacity to show respect to parents and seniors (Vera, 2013).
In conflict situations, the study found that it is more appropriate to use digital means of communication than face-to-face conversations. Indeed, the study found that the use of technology to communicate in conflict scenarios is more effective than the use of face-to-face communication as it provides a framework to freely express an opinion, criticise, and solve a potentially explosive situation. Moreover, communication using various forms of media has no time and location constraints, implying that it is more effective than face-to-face communication in certain contexts and situations.
Consequently, the study concluded that the quality and effectiveness of communication are heavily reliant on the context (physical, cultural, social, and psychological) and situation, rather than a mode of communication considerations (Vera, 2013). If the context determines that you are addressing your parent or senior, then it would be better to use face-to-face communication. However, it would be plausible to use digital media if one is trying to address a conflict situation to gain from the advantages mentioned above.
Vera, N. (2013). Quality of interpersonal communication in the digital era. International Journal of Social Science & Humanity, 3(6), 565-571.