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But their presence can sustain us and distract us and make it less likely for us to look beyond them to other social encounters.They can provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship, without the demands of intimacy.

The spoke to Turkle about her research and what it means for the Facebook generation.The most dramatic change is our ability to be “elsewhere” at any point in time, to sidestep what is difficult, what is hard in a personal interaction and go to another place where it does not have to be dealt with.Rather, other people are used, as what one might think of as part objects — spare parts to support a fragile self.In a recent New York Times article, the founder of an online dating site ( summed up the problem of his generation by saying that, “People in the 21st century are alone.We Facebook-friend people who do not know their commitment to us and similarly, we are unsure of what commitment we have to them.

They can, in fact, be more like “fans” than friends.

Children say they try to make eye contact with their parents and are frustrated because their parents are looking down at their smart phones when they come out of school or after school activities.

Young men talk about how only a few years ago, their dads used to watch Sunday sports with them and during the station breaks or between plays, they used to chat.

So, it can be as simple as what happens when 15-year-olds gather for a birthday party.

As anyone who has ever been 15 knows, there is a moment at such events when everyone wants to leave. It is, however, very important that everyone stay and learn to get along with each other.

We have so many new ways of communicating, yet we are so alone.” My guarded optimism about the future comes from the young people I speak with who already complain about having to perform a character on social networks.