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Without an ability to look inward, those locked into the virtual worlds of social media develop a sensibility of “I share, therefore I am,” crafting their identities for others.

Continuous digital performance leaves teenagers experiencing what ought to be the satisfactions of solitude only as “disconnection anxiety.”As in her earlier work, Turkle considers this loss of empathy as both a clinician and an ethnographer.

But after a career examining relations between people and computers, she blends her description with advocacy.

She presents a powerful case that a new communication revolution is degrading the quality of human relationships—with family and friends, as well as colleagues and romantic partners.

Smartphones went from 10 percent to 40 percent market penetration faster than any other consumer technology in history.

In the United States, adoption hit 50 percent only three years ago.

This number actually may be too low, since people tend to underestimate their own mobile usage.

In a 2015 Gallup survey, 61 percent of people said they checked their phones less frequently than others they knew.The picture she paints is both familiar and heartbreaking: parents who are constantly distracted on the playground and at the dinner table; children who are frustrated that they can’t get their parents’ undivided attention; gatherings where friends who are present vie for attention with virtual friends; classrooms where professors gaze out at a sea of semiengaged multitaskers; and a dating culture in which infinite choice undermines the ability to make emotional commitments.Turkle finds the roots of the problem in the failure of young people absorbed in their devices to develop fully independent selves, a topic she began to explore in Alone Together (2011).Three quarters of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds say that they reach for their phones immediately upon waking up in the morning.Once out of bed, we check our phones 221 times a day—an average of every 4.3 minutes—according to a UK study.In that book, she examined the way interaction with robotic toys and “always on” connections affect adolescent development.

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