What Is Electronic Communication?

Compared with the old days, the seventies and eighties, when communication between people was done either face to face, by hand written letter, or by telephone, the modern world is full of electronic communication devices which allow mankind to communicate with one another instantaneously. Today, many people wonder how on earth they, or their predecessors, ever coped without instant communication. This report will help to show the various types of electronic communication methods, why they are used and by whom, and the pros and cons of having and using electronic communication.

Electronic Communication allows a person to combine many types of media such as graphics, text, video, and voice into one single message. It is also specific to the person or persons that you are communicating with. Electronic communication is a two-way


method of communicating, where the person that one is communicating with receives the message immediately and has the opportunity to reply to the message and the message sender immediately as well. Electronic Communication can be broken down into three categories, each with its own three subcategories

What is Electronic Communication?

A definition of Electronic Communication

Types of Electronic Communication

The Electronic Privacy Act

Why use Electronic Communication?

How it can help you.

How it helps the environment

Who uses electronic communication?

The Pros and Cons of using Electronic Communication

Electronic Communication Etiquette

The risks of using Electronic Communication

The benefits of using Electronic Communication

What is Electronic Communication?

Definitions. There are many definitions on the Web:

communication by computer wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn


Telecommunication is the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. In earlier times, this may have involved the use of smoke signals, drums, semaphore, flags or heliograph. …


communication which is transferred electronically


has the meaning given by the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 .


Types of Electronic Communication.

There are many different types of electronic communication devices. They include: cell phones, fax machines, pagers to receive phone numbers, citizens band radio used by farmers to receive weather reports, computers (desktop and laptop), and hand-held PDA’s to write down information for later retrieval. Within some of these devices, such as cell phones and computers, there are communication devices which people use to communicate back and forth with business and social contacts across the world. These are the Internet, e-mail services, chat rooms, electronic billboards such as those in Times Square New


York, instant messaging devices such as Facebook chat and Instant Messenger, and business and social chat areas such as Facebook, Twitter, My Space and My Business space, and a video communication and conference system named Skype where people can see each other on the screen while they talk. “You can hold inexpensive video conferences or press conferences from your desk, or conference with people at several desks located across the world.” Why Use Electronic Communications? Potomac Knowledgeway. http://www.knowledgeway.org/living/communications/homepage.html

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The Electronics Communications Privacy Act

This is a law, enacted in 1986, which “sets out the provisions for access, use, disclosure, interception and privacy protections of electronic communications.” It covers various forms of electronic and wire communications and it “prohibits unlawful access and certain disclosures of communications contents.” It comes under Title 18 of the U.S. Code. AOL Legal Department. http://legal.web.aol.com/resources/legislation/ecpa.html


Why use Electronic Communication?

How it can help you?

Electronic communication is not just new tools for communication but also new ways to communicate. Electronic communication is interactive so you can engage with your audience much better. This is achieved through using pictures, sounds, graphics, videos, and all of these can be combined into one single message. Also, the communication is often immediate (texts, chats, instant messaging, Skype video) and it is two-way i.e. there is a back and forth conversation. Fax machines allow one to send and receive printed matter almost immediately. The most important thing is that these electronic communication devices allow you to communicate immediately with anyone across the whole world.

How it helps the environment.

Electronic communication has cut down on the excessive use of paper products (fax machines being the only exception), thereby reducing the number of trees needing to be cut down and also reducing the amount of paper being burnt into the atmosphere. Many of these devices also take pictures which can be put on a disk, thereby reducing the chemical usage from picture development. The Internet stores huge amounts of information so fewer books and newspapers are being produced. This also cuts down on paper, ink and chemicals that are used, so less waste product is going into the ground.


This in turn cuts down on the huge landfills that are needed to hold all the waste that was generated from paper products. Another thing is that one doesn’t need lead or ink to write down the information – it is done by pressing a button. There is less chance of lead products making people sick or inks making a mess. Teachers and students also don’t have to purchase pens and pencils which then need to be disposed of – which is a biological hazard and harmful to the environment.

Who uses electronic communication?

Electronic communication is expanding throughout the world. From young school age children through Grandparents, almost anyone you speak with has an electronic communication device of some sort. Large business have the most types since they rely on these communication devices to conduct business and communicate with their contacts. But the average American family will have at least a cell phone or a computer in their home. Poorer families and third world countries might not have these devices but the opportunity to own them or have access to them is increasing. For example Internet Cafes which offer paid usage of their computers.

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The Pros and cons of using Electronic Communication

Electronic Communication Etiquette.

There are several points to consider when using electronic communication. These include: speed of generation, transmission and response to messages; the permanence of messages – they can be deleted or stored for years; the cost of distribution: messages can go to many people or just one at the same cost; accessibility there is a problem with sending too much correspondence; security and privacy: messages usually get to the right recipient but they can be intercepted due to incorrect addressing and/or perusal by unauthorized people; sender authenticity: people can alter whom the message comes from; using the appropriate degree of formality when writing so that it doesn’t embarrass you later; summarizing what you are responding to and sing quotes when possible; keep messages short and to the point; formatting messages so that they can be read easily; be careful when using sarcasm and humor and be careful with anger; be careful what you say about others; be aware that not all devices are the same and other people’s machines may not operate the same way; respect copyright and license agreements; be responsible for what you post.

The risks of using electronic communication

“By using electronic mail, USENET news groups, electronic bulletin board systems, irc, chat, and so forth, you can make a fool of yourself to many strangers rapidly.


Sending an electronic message is a lot more permanent than saying something; long after your feelings change, the words are still there.”

The Risks of electronic Communication by Tom Van Vleck


Much of what I discussed in the topic above can be said here. The bottom line is that writing/posting/texting words when you are angry, drunk, upset, being personal or plain stupid can backfire and be used against you. Another risk is that one tends to lose the opportunity for face to face communication, and electronic communication does not allow the recipient to see the sender’s body language or intonation of the message. The skill of letter writing has also gone away. Also, as we become more and more computerized, we are spending more and more time on our electronic gadgets and answering the flood of electronic communication and less time having conversations with one another or reading a book. Also, the art of being able to spell is going away. Text language and short versions of words are taking over (brb for example or lol) and some students have lost the skill of writing a sentence or even an essay. This is not a good thing. Also, business people have two sets of communication devices – one for the office and business contacts and another for friends and family. There is a cost to all of this too. Although cell phones and fax machines are getting cheaper, there is still a monthly maintenance cost and the cost of replacement and upgrades to consider. My family spends over $400 per month on cell phones and wireless air cards!!

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The benefits of using electronic communication.

When used sensibly and for the purpose intended, electronic communication can serve many purposes. Obviously the ability to instantly communicate is at the top of the list since many of us like an answer immediately. A second benefit is the cost, in that you can reach many people at once with the same message. No more paper, stamps and a trip to the post office. World-wide instant communication and the ability to have business conferences and talks is probably at the top of the list for companies wishing to do well in the world economic market. Another benefit is one of being able to reach people (our kids for one) wherever they may be. There are safety features attached to this too because one can dial 911 and get help right away. There are, however, still some places in the world that are unreachable by electronic communication devices. Another benefit is that we can now multitask. For example, while instant messaging on facebook, a stockbroker can watch the market on-line and buy and sell shares.


In conclusion, our world has come a very long way since the days of the telegraph and the rotary dial phone – these can now only be found in museums!! Cell phones on kids, teens, adults and the elderly are almost commonplace. Many families also have home computers, students have laptops for college and some homes have fax machines and 2-way radios. The age of instant communication is here, and only our grandparents and our parents can remember life before cell phones and computers. The only way that I communicate with my friends, aside


from when I see them face to face, is by cell phone or e-mail or Facebook. I hardly ever write a letter (except as a thank-you note!) Having studied this topic in more depth, I have come to realize that we are all now very reliant on this instant communication. There are certainly many benefits to it all, such as speed and ease of communication, cost ( usage) and the ability to reach contacts across the world as well as download information. But there are also some risks t00- cost of purchase and maintenance for one, as well as the opportunity for misuse and abuse, and also the increased amount of time being spent communicating when one could be having a family conversation or reading a book or writing a letter. Hopefully, based upon this report, people will see that even though electronic communication has helped improve communication speed, the art of face to face conversation and the ability to write and spell are still important skills that we need to maintain in our society.


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