Smart Phones and Social Networking Technology

For this unit, we’ll be examining the impact that new media technology, such as smart phones and social networking technology, has on us—as individuals, as a community, as a global society, as human beings.  Because we are currently living in the midst of these developments, and can perhaps still remember some times when this technology was not available to us, we’re in a unique position to discuss what we’ve observed as far as the effects of these technologies on such things as our attention span, our interactions with others, our level of social engagement, our literacy, our personal and public identities, and so forth. 


For this project, you will be writing a critical, thesis-driven discussion about some aspect of social technology, and you will develop that discussion by responding to and synthesizing the ideas presented in Sherry Turkle’s “Always On” and Alina Tugend’s “Multitasking Can Make You Lose… Um… Focus”.  In other words, you will use these two articles to help you develop, support, illustrate, and provide evidence for your thesis.  In doing so, you will respond critically, thoughtfully, and analytically to the ideas presented in these texts by


  • Expanding upon their ideas, which means that you will use what they have written as a catalyst for your own analysis and inquiry into this issue, and
  • Distinguishing your views from theirs. This does not necessarily mean that your task is to simply identify whether you disagree with what these writers are saying; rather, in academic essays of intellectual inquiry such as this one, your goal is to identify where your own ideas diverge from the ideas of others in order to further develop the larger discussion of the issue and help it progress.  In other words, you are adding to the conversation by examining why these divergences in perspective occur. 


As you engage the ideas of these authors and develop your particular thesis/perspective, you will be doing a mix of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing the ideas in these texts, so we can see precisely how you’re interacting with them.  We will look at ways to use each of these strategies effectively.


Here are some questions to consider as you begin formulating your thesis:


  • When are we alone and when are we together?
  • Are we really together when we’re virtually together?
  • Does virtual connectivity make us feel more connected or more isolated?
  • Does constant connectivity make us more impatient—more incapable of sitting still and quiet, of being introspective?
  • Will these new technologies end up changing us—our psychology, our brain function—in irreversible ways, or is this an over-exaggerated fear?
  • Are we on the way to becoming “cyborgs”?


Essay Formatting Requirements: Please use the following checklist to make sure that you format your essay correctly and according to proper MLA guidelines.  As you apply each formatting requirement, simply check it off the list. 


  • Minimum of 4 full pages, maximum of 6 full pages
  • Double-spaced
  • One inch margins all around (left, right, top, bottom)
  • Times New Roman size 12 font
  • You must give an original title to your essay
  • Please format your heading and title according to MLA standards as demonstrated on page 197 of Handbook for College Research.


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