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The Negative Effects Of Instant Messaging In The Workplace

881 words - 4 pages

As the tremendous evolution of technology has quickly changed people's lives, instant messaging (IM) today is considered as a set of communication technologies used for text-based communication between two or more people. Garrett and Danziger (2008) demonstrate that people who utilize IM at work are likely to be interrupted less than non users and concurrently use computers to do both work-related and personal communication more regularly than others. However, this essay argues negative impacts resulting in losing concentration from work, increasing the distance among people and devaluating social language used in real life.

According to Cameron and Webster (2005), IM allows users to see their friend lists which indicate that whether their friends are online, offline or busy. Furthermore, users could adjust their presence information, including automatically log in or log off their IM systems as well as control the amount of idle time. Due to its convenience, the population of IM users has increased significantly in recent years; however there are a great number of potential negative effects of IM that should be noticed at workplace.

To begin with, one of the worst demerits of IM is 'the tendency for IM messages to break one's concentration while focused on another task' (Cameron & Webster 2005, p.97). Most office buildings are commonly equipped with Wireless Internet and thus if there are incoming messages, it will be self-regulating to notify employees by a small led lights or a short ring which lead them to easily neglect their affairs. Although most people become aware that the inbox can be checked later, they cannot wait until break time because of their curiosities. According to Pew Internet and American Project (2008), there are 20% of employed IM users sending messages at least once a day to family and friends while they are at work, 3% admit to sending 'constantly', whereas 31% sending messages daily to colleagues at work and 8% exchange messages with colleagues non-stop. This statistic given exposes that the more time wasted on messaging, the less attention spent on working. As a result, IM seems to pay less attention to do two activities at the same time which reduce people's work productivity.

Another significant concern is that IM creates a distance among its users because they lack face to face communication. In modern society, people are busy with their affairs, and they hardly have time to meet their relatives and friends. Yet, internet interaction like IM therefore helps them to break down the communication barriers. Nonetheless, this technology itself could become an obstacle that leads users to be on distant terms with other people. For example, some people choose IM as an active way to send wishes on birthdays or offer congratulations on special occasions, instead of meeting directly. Based on Tyler (2002, p.196), some people...

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