In a society where texting and emails have taken the place of phone calls and written letters, face to face interaction, too, has slowly collapsed as technology has taken over and changed our communication. As means of getting news and shopping have been converted into easy online methods, so has the idea of mentoring. Though the debate rages on of how the internet may or may not be denigrating our social interaction, mentoring online has shown some benefits.
Mentoring online, or e-mentoring, shares the common goals of traditional mentoring: to provide a nurturing relationship between a mentor and mentee. Mentors who participate in e-mentoring share the same roles and responsibilities as mentors who meet with their mentees face to face. Though e-mentoring participants do not get the personal connection they may get by hanging out and meeting in person, the participants are still able to have a close relationship. In fact, many of the benefits of mentoring online involve being able to have an honest and closer relationship.
Because participants do not see each other, many feel that they are able to disclose more personal information. They cannot see the mentor’s reaction or look of judgment on the mentor’s face. This allows them to feel more confident sharing their problems and asking more questions. Mentors may also feel more ready to share stories and their own experiences without feeling that their mentee is bored or doesn’t care. They can also give advice without the feared eye roll from their mentee.
E-mentoring also asks for a different kind of commitment for mentors and mentees. It takes a lot less time to write an email, message or participate in online chat than to meet for a given time every week. Mentors who are worried that they do not have enough time in their day can easily mentor at work, during a break or while surfing the net by taking five minutes out of their day to send a quick email.
Mentoring online also breaks geographical boundaries. Participants can have a positive relationship with a mentor or mentee who lives across the country or on the other side of the world. This helps participants of all ages when it comes to networking and understanding another culture.
Contacting your mentor or mentee is also easier given all of the forms of online communication available via the internet. Social networking sites like facebook and myspace allow you to message your mentee or mentor and learn more about them through pictures and profiles. You can also see who they are friends with. You can also interact with them through various applications. Online gaming is also another way to communicate and “spend time” with your mentee. Many sites allow you to verse each other in a variety of games. Instant messaging allows you to have a conversation with your mentee in regular time, where you can talk back and forth like a face to face conversation.
With all there is available to mentors and mentees online, a close relationship can form and can be easy to maintain. For those who embrace the advances of technology, this is a perfect way to participate in the growing popularity of building an online relationship. It is also a solution to those who want to mentor but do not have the time, energy or face to face communication skills to participate.