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Well, it can be quite addictive. Internet addiction is generally recognized by psychologists as real, and instant messaging is one of the bits that can really hook you in. IM give immediate feedback, as it becomes a stimulus/response type of addiction in some people.
Here's a link to a study about IM addiction in China. You can get the full text by clicking on the tab on the left side of the page.
As a child of The 'Sixties, I just think that instant messaging is far more impersonal than actually talking face-to-face or via telephone. I have more than once witnessed two teens sitting side-by-side busily texting EACH OTHER instead of speaking. It shows the addictive quality of the IM, though I do recognize that it's a great way to communicate when verbalizing is not always acceptable (during class, work, etc.).
As the first post mentioned, it is addictive and so people tend to do it at really bad times. I often see high school kids in particular (but not only) texting while they drive. This is a very dangerous thing that would not be happening were it not for this technology.
The idea of "instant" becomes dangerous when one sends a message without considering possible aftermath. Stories of messages being sent to persons by accident are numerous, as are stories of the disaterous consequences. People who are angry or upset are not really thinking about what they are writing, and even more problems may result when they vent via IM.
A text is usually short and to the point which is why it is great, but that same thing can be its disadvantage too. Lots of times I a get a text asking a question, and I assume that because the person sent the text instead of directly calling me that they don't want to talk, only receivea text answer. The problem is, sometimes my answer is more complex than can be conveyed by a text or as options or justifications I think are important, but too lengthy for a text. Now I feel weird because my answer is incomplete on some level, but I am still hesitant to call.
Another disadvantage is the lack of intonation in what you are writing. When you write something that's meant to be sarcastic, it doesn't always come across that way because it's a few words. Sarcasm can be used in a book because it's in the context of the story and characters but with just a few words, it can be hard to see.
Hamlet's toying words to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern come to mind regarding cyberspace and activities such as instant texting:
for there is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so.
Activities on the Internet can be either, certainly. There are such times when someone is far away or incapacitated somewhere that instant communication with him/her becomes paramount. Then, there are other times in which something "instantly" uttered has adverse effects.
IM is a way young people and teenagers to speak at this time.
I have a friend likes to IM on the BlackBerry each day.
And this is unfortunately something bad and dangerous.
Because it may cause fatigue and tiredness for the eye and the body in general.
and thank you "2" for this link.
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