Since the widespread of internet resources, online communication has become readily popular and has affected the relationship between friends or romantic partners. Whilst many recent researches have suggested that the use of Internet have improved relationship quality, researchers have also discovered some downsides of internet usage. This essay will discuss the advantages and drawbacks of Internet on the area of intimacy, friendship, romantic relationship, fulfilment of sexual need and user’s psychological well-being respectively.
Online relationships have proved to strengthen the intimacy between partners, however the level of intimacy is still lower than offline relationship (Scott, Mottarella & Lavooy, 2006). A possible explanation is drawn from Anderson and Emmers-Sommer’s (2006) research, explaining that intimacy between online partners is positively associated with time spent on online communication. In the research done by Scott and at el, they did not measure the time that the participant spent on computer-mediated communication. It is possible that those participants do not spent great time on online communication, hence leading to the relative lower level of intimacy. Moreover, the purpose of online communication influences the level of intimacy perceived. People who use online communication for the purpose of self-fulfilment feel closer to their online partners, value more of their online relationship and become more satisfied with their relationship compare to people whose purpose of using the internet is for interpersonal involvement (i.e. making new friend) Pornsakulvanich, Haridakis and Rubin, 2008). This reconfirms Valkenburg and Peter’s (2009) argument that not using internet as an alternative way of face-to-face communication increase perceived intimacy, and benefit the process of building a new relationship. Furthermore, different expectation and motivation contribute to the different level of intimacy in online relationship. People who are struggle with traditional communication or feel lonely tend to use the internet for the sole purpose of interpersonal involvement, and are more likely to consider internet as an alternative of face-to-face communication (Valkenburg& Peter, 2009). As a result, they may expect too much from the relationship, which may be harder to meet the desired high expectation, this may then result in a lesser intimated and satisfied relationship.
The internet will improve existed friendship quality, whilst forming new friendships. However, the establishment of new relationships may be at the expense of existing relationship for high social anxiety or introverted people as they spend more time on making new friend, less t...