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Does Electronic Communication Lead to Isolation?

High school students in the East Coast interviewed by MIT professor Sherry Turkle told her that instead of feeling connected to friends by constant texting, they feel lonely because of the lack of face-to-face focused attention, hence the title of her book Alone Together. They also feel pressure to respond quickly to a text and sometimes are confused by the real intent of a message without being able to read someone’s facial expressions. Teens “write for effect” on Facebook, trying to show they’re cool. They also grew up with multitasking parents who talked on their cell phones and texted, some even at the family dinner table. I’ve noticed this focus on the device rather than the child when I take my grandson to playgrounds. I’m the only adult who goes down the slides with my little one. Turkle reported that it’s common to hear children and teens describe the frustration of trying to get their parents’ attention.[i] In her conversations with therapists, they tell Turkle about the increasing number of patients who come in “detached from their bodies and seem close to unaware of the most basic courtesies. Purpose-driven, plugged into their media, these patients pay little attention to those around them.”[ii]

[i] Sherry Turkle. Alone Together. Basic Books, 2011, p. 268.


[ii] Ibid, p. 293


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