Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Social and behavioral scientist; Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Sociology, Demography, and Geography
Explores the, subjective side of people's relationships with technology, especially digital technology. Research centers on analyzing electronic technologies of communication and their impact on our emotions, creativity, work. Most recent work, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age explores a crisis in empathy as we turn to our devices instead of each other. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (1984) pioneered the study of the emotional impact of computers, particularly on personal identity. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet analyzes the phenomenon of individuals choosing new identities and patterns of relationships in the cyber world. Conclusions underline the fluidity of identity made possible by new media. These works expressed a positive view of the impact of electronic media upon adults, while cautioning about potential developmental hazards. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011) documents first negative assessments of social media. Conclusions are relevant to many fields, from child study and education to relationships in the workplace and the political sphere. Profiled in the New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired magazine, and is a featured commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology for many media networks, including appearances on such programs as Nightline, Frontline, 20/20, and The Colbert Report.