Social scientists are examining the emotional impact the proliferation of personal media devices is having on our time with loved ones.

The escape offered by the proliferation of personal media devices has many questioning the impact on traditional “family time.” A modern family of four could be sitting together in the same living room while connected to four different realities, prompting academics to examine the paradoxical disconnect we experience while using the Internet and networking on social media sites.

The possible detriment to our emotional intimacy is what’s most startling. At home, iPads and laptops are a distraction, but studies suggest that the connections we establish online prove vapid relationships. Like a drug, our friends online may provide an immediate rush, but with a deleterious aftermath. The Times interviewed Sherry Turkle, a professor of social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other:

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