What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic Communication?

Carolyn lagattuta/Moment/Getty Images

Electronic communication enables information exchange both synchronously and asynchronously across large distances and in a large number of formats, but disadvantages include security problems, a lack of access and potential misunderstood messages. This type of communication offers people many new ways of transmitting ideas and data.

Synchronous communication requires people to be available at the same time, such as for telephone and Web conferencing. Asynchronous communications, such as email, texting or social media, allow people to access information at different times, but it takes longer for everyone to get on the same page. Synchronous communication allows people an immediate exchange of communication at the cost of the need to coordinate schedules so everyone is present.

In addition to the varying advantages and disadvantages of synchronicity, electronic communications entail more general strengths and weaknesses. Electronic media vary widely, which means that the medium can be made to match the message. When text works well for a message, it can be sent by email. When a message requires that people see each other to prevent misunderstandings, Web conferencing is more appropriate. Electronic communications span the entire world without costing much more than Internet service and a computer.

Electronic communication requires security to prevent viruses and other malevolent software, and even a good virus protection system may not prevent problems due to spam or phishing emails, in which the reader clicks on a link or provides private information. Because human communication involves so much more than words, readers can misunderstand emails and text messages.