Is Chatting Online Good?

Adolescents improve emotional health through instant messaging

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Today, we mostly hear about the negative effects of using technology, but technology has also streamlined our lives and made us a more connected society.

Could there be any other benefits to using technology?

For adolescents, technology is a means of communication, and using online chat to talk with friends can have positive emotional effects.

"Teach your teen to put words to their feelings"

Michal Dolev-Cohen, PhD, and Azy Barak, PhD, of the Department of Counseling and Human Development at the University of Haifa, Israel, conducted a study on adolescents’ use of technology, particularly instant messaging (IM).

For the study, two hundred IM conversations from adolescents’ aged 14 to 18 were analyzed, 150 of the adolescents reported having negative feelings prior to IMing and the other 50 reported normal/positive feelings before IMing.

The researchers looked at the participants emotional states before and after their IMing conversations. A questionnaire was also given to determine each participant’s level of introversion and extroversion.

Those adolescents who were distressed before chatting online reported feeling better afterwards. The analysis showed the same thing, that emotionally distressed adolescents felt relief after having an IM conversation with a peer.

While the distressed adolescents did not report complete relief from instant messaging, significant improvement in their emotional state was reported.

The researchers suggested that the act of writing to friends about feelings in IM conversations relieved distress and promoted well-being in the adolescents.

“Writing–as opposed to talking–enables…more authentic sharing of thoughts and feelings,” said Dr. Dolev-Cohen and Dr. Barak.

The study also found that for introverts, online chatting with friends may have even greater benefits.

This study became available online August 24th for Computers in Human Behavior. No statements about funding were made and no conflicts of interest were noted.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 4, 2012
Last Updated:
September 5, 2012