This is how technology and social media impacts the way we communicate

Computer-mediated-communication (CMC) refers to any type of correspondence that transpires via technology. It might surprise you to learn that the term debuted relatively recently considering the popularity of the process itself.

There have been rumblings regarding the adverse impact digital communication is having on its staunchest votaries-young people. In hopes to either allay or qualify these concerns,  researchers at Hunter College, The University of New York and The Langone School of Medicine published compelling finds in the journal Scientific Reports.  

“The pervasive and growing use of social media and mobile devices has transformed how we communicate on a daily basis, including how we experience, express, and manage our emotions,” said Sarah Myruski, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at Hunter College

Digital goo-goo

The study began with a subject group comprised of 123 adults. The researchers ask after their communication preferences, their emotional well-being, depressive symptoms, emotional dysregulation, anxiety, and personality. The respondents that expressed a preference CMC over face-to-face contact were actually more sensitive to facial expressions in addition to expressing a higher degree of emotional hyperactivity-which refers to regulate one’s responses to emotional stimuli. In some instances, this effect is an atrophying one, but sometimes it’s a helpful tool for individuals that are ofter overwhelmed by face to face interactions. In either case, not enough research has been conducted to interpret a direct causality.

To be clear, it’s not the internet itself that alters our emotional facilities, but the way in which we interact with it. In order to formulate a more discreet correlation, the researchers conducted another experiment. In these experiments, a portion of the participants from the first logged into Facebook for 15 minutes before completing a questionnaire.  Those that spent this 15 minutes engaging with other members or sending private messages, evidenced greater emotional well-being compared to those that merely browsed aimlessly.

“People should be mindful of how they are using social media and technology to communicate, particularly when expressing or managing emotions,” Myruski added. “Also, the type of activities engaged in via social media seems to matter. That is, active communication versus passive browsing via CMC may serve to bolster emotional well-being and vice versa.”

The study was titled, “Through a Screen Darkly: Use of Computer-Mediated Communication Predicts Emotional Functioning,” and was authored by Sarah Myruski, Jean M. Quintero, Samantha Denefrio, and Tracy A. Dennis-Tiwary.