College Students and Instant Messaging: An Analysis of Chatting, Flirting, & USing Away Messages

By Abraham Nachbaur, nachbaur @

>> Instant Messaging has become an integral part of college life and residential communities; whether for better of for worse, however, is the subject of heated debate. From my research I have concluded that IM supplements traditional forms of communication and is, therefore, for the better. By extending the real space community into the world of cyberspace, IM strengthens the bonds between peers. Rather than promote emotional loneliness and isolation, IM allows students to communicate with one other more often and to build stronger relationships with people they might not otherwise converse with on a regular basis. Some psychologists and leading Internet researchers, however, fear that online interaction detracts from face-to-face interaction and weakens community ties. For instance, LaGesse presents the common worry that "friends and coworkers are losing the warmth of personal interaction, and IM-ing will cause us to further neglect the power of personal cues--the winks, nods, and voice tones that give nuance to our dialogue" (2001, p. 56). Whether beneficial or harmful, IM is nonetheless a ubiquitous aspect of student life.

>> With the data collected from 120 participants and current research on IM, I will dissect three main uses of IM--chatting, flirting, and leaving and retrieving messages--and highlight the extent to which it has become an integral aspect of student life in each area. By supplementing many forms of traditional communication, online interaction further facilitates the formation and maintenance of relationships and community cohesiveness.

>> IM & General Chatting
>> IM & Flirting | Graph
>> Away Messages & IM | Graph
>> Community & IM
>> Conclusion
>> References


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