Fall 2017
Sociology 282
Monday/Wednesday: 8:30 – 10:20am

Office: O’Connor 336
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:30 – 12:30 or by appointment
Phone: (508) 626-4864
E-mail: isilver@framingham.edu


It’s easy to take for granted that we live in a world of 24/7 mobile communication. Yet, this relatively recent development is having profound impacts on how we live. Our aim in this course is to explore social implications of this technological revolution. Some of the topics we will consider include: the forging of virtual identities, the quality of our online relationships, multitasking; and the dangers technology poses to youth.


This course will enable you to:

  • Recognize the powerful roles mobile communication technology plays in our society.
  • See your own life differently by noticing how it is being shaped by the ways you use this technology.
  • Become comfortable with expressing your ideas orally in front of your peers.
  • Write with focus, clarity, and brevity.


The success of this course hinges on the productive exchange of ideas through discussions, with minimal lecturing. Therefore, it’s crucial that you play an active role in these discussions.


There are no books you need to buy for the course! All readings are posted below.

*Please bring assigned material to class. Either print it or access it electronically in class via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.


As a way of facilitating rich discussions, you are to post on Blackboard in advance of most classes. The dates when a reading response is due are listed on the schedule below.

Please post no later than 7am on the due date. I will not give credit for late posts. Your write-up should have two parts:

  1. A 2-3 paragraph critique of the reading, which differs from a summary. Whereas a summary highlights main points in the reading, a critique takes the discussion in a direction of your choosing. It explores themes or issues the reading raised for you. There are several ways you can frame your critique.
    — Something you found interesting and why.
    — Something you found confusing and why.
    — An important topic left unexplored.
    — Strengths/weaknesses of a study’s methodology.
    — How a concept or idea applies to your own life.
  2. Raise 2 or more questions for our class discussion. These should not be “yes/no” questions but instead “how” or “why” questions, since these generate more discussion.


I understand there are justifiable reasons for missing a class, but if you miss more than two it will affect your grade. If you have to be absent, please let me know. There is no need to give me a doctor’s note. It is your responsibility to catch up on material you missed.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

40% Reading responses
20%  Paper 1
20%  Paper 2
20%  Oral presentationSchedule


Given the Sociology Department’s commitment to maintaining the highest academic standards, students should be aware of the University’s policies concerning academic honesty, which are stated in the undergraduate catalog: “Integrity is essential to academic life. Consequently, students who enroll at Framingham State University agree to maintain high standards of academic honesty and scholarly practice. They shall be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the published policies and procedures regarding academic honesty.” Infractions include plagiarism, cheating on exams and quizzes, unauthorized collaboration with other students, and submitting work in more than one course for academic credit without prior approval of the instructor. The FSU Catalog defines plagiarism as “claiming as one’s own work the published or unpublished literal or paraphrased work of another.” Penalties for academic dishonesty may include receiving a failing grade for the course, academic suspension, and dismissal from the University.

Wed, September 6th

Course Introduction

*READ IN CLASS: Teddy Wayne, “Our (Bare) Shelves, Ourselves.” New York Times, December 5, 2015.

Mon, September 11th

*READ: Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Putting Your Best Cyberface Forward.” New York Times, January 3, 2008.

*READ: Peggy Orenstein, “I Tweet, Therefore I Am.” New York Times Magazine, July 30, 2010.

*READ: Alina Tugend, “The Anxiety of the Unanswered E-mail.” New York Times, April 19, 2013.


Wed, September 13th

*READ: Jeffrey Rosen, “The Web Means the End of Forgetting.” New York Times Magazine, July 19, 2010.

*READ: Clyde Haberman, “Mob Shaming: The Pillory at the Center of the Global Village.” New York Times, June 19, 2016.

*WATCH: Jon Ronson, “How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life”


Mon, September 18th

*READ: Natasha Singer, “The Digital Disparities Facing Lower-Income Teenagers.” New York Times, November 3, 2015.

*READ: Marina Micheli, “What is New in the Digital Divide? Understanding Internet Use by Teenagers from Different Social Backgrounds.” In Communication and Information Technologies Annual (Studies in Media and Communications 2015, Edited by Laura Robinson, Shelia R. Cotten, Jeremy Schulz, Timothy M. Hale, and Apryl Williams.


Wed, September 20th

*READ: Sherry Turkle, “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.” New York Times, September 26, 2015.

*READ: Jenny Davis, “Our Devices Are Not Turning Us Into Unfeeling Robots.” The Daily Dot, November 15, 2016.

*READ: Mark Oppenheimer, “Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All.” New York Times Magazine, January 17, 2014.


Mon, September 25th

*READ: Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, “Can You Connect with Me Now? How the Presence of Mobile Communication Technology Influences Face-to-Face Conversation Quality.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships July 2012 1-10.

*READ: Stephen Marche, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic, April 2, 2012.


Wed, September 27th

*READ: Neil Swidey, “The End of Alone.” Boston Globe Magazine, February 8, 2009.

*READ: Teddy Wayne, “The End of Reflection.” New York Times, June 11, 2016.


Mon, October 2nd

*READ: Verena von Pfetten, “Read This Story without Distraction (Can You?)” New York Times, April 29, 2016.

*READ: Timothy Egan, “The Eight-Second Attention Span.” New York Times, January 22, 2016.


Wed, October 4th

*READBionka Bosker, “The Binge Breaker.” The Atlantic, November 2016.

*WATCH: Tristan Harris, “How Better Tech Could Protect Us from Distraction.”


Mon, October 9th

No class – Columbus Day

Wed, October 11th

*Paper 1 due

No reading!



Mon, October 16th

*READ: Christine Rosen, “Our Cell Phones, Ourselves.” The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Summer 2004: 26-45.


Wed, October 18th

*READ: Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, “Hello, Stranger.” New York Times, April 25, 2014.

*READ: Christine Rosen, “Are Smartphones Turning Us Into Bad Samaritans?” Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2013.


Mon, October 23rd

*READ: Christine Rosen, “Romance in the Information Age.” The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Winter 2004: 3-16.


Wed, October 25th

No reading!


Mon, October 30th

*LISTEN: “Can You Have a Whole Relationship Through Texts?” Note to Self podcast, October 14, 2015.

*READ: Daniel Jones, “Romance at Arm’s Length.” New York Times, February 6, 2014.

*READ: Richard Kearney, “Losing Our Touch.” New York Times, August 30, 2014.


Wed, November 1st

*WATCH: Eli Pariser, “Beware Online ‘Filter Bubbles”

*READ: Lindsay Meisel, “Don’t Blame the Internet for Political Polarization.” Breakthrough Journal, Summer 2013.

*READ: Jenna Wortham, “Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture?” New York Times Magazine, November 22, 2016.


Mon, November 6th

*READ: Farhad Manjoo, “How the Internet is Loosening Our Grip on the Truth.” New York Times, November 2, 2016.

*READ: Jonathan Maher, “The Problem with ‘Self-Investigation’ in a Post-Truth Era.” New York Times Magazine, December 27, 2016.


Wed, November 8th

*READ: Nicholas D. Kristof, “After Recess: Change the World.” New York Times, February 4, 2012.

*READ: Zeynep Tufekci, “#Kony2012, Understanding Networked Symbolic Action & Why Slacktivism is Conceptually Misleading.” Technosociology Blog, March 10, 2012.

*READ: Christopher Mele, “Online Petitions Take Citizen Participation to New Levels. But Do They Work?” New York Times, December 28, 2016.

*READ: Nicholas Kristof, “Payday for Ice Bucket Challenge’s Mocked Slacktivists.” New York Times, September 3, 2015.


*WATCH IN CLASS:  Zeynep Tufekci, “How the Internet Has Made Social Change Easy to Organize, Hard to Win”

Mon, November 13th

No reading!

*Visit to the Mazmanian Gallery exhibit about family life.

Wednesday, November 15th

*READ: Danah Boyd, “Addiction: What Makes Teens Obsessed with Social Media.” Pp. 77-99 in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014


Monday, November 20th

*READIra Silver, “The Elephant in the Ipad: What’s Lurking Behind Online Predators?” Chapter in Social Problems: The Hidden Stories


Wednesday, November 22nd

No class!

Mon, November 27th

*READ: Ira Silver, “Have Kids Gotten Meaner? An Up-close Look at Cyberbullying and Suicide.” Chapter in Social Problems: The Hidden Stories.


Wednesday, November 29th

*READ: David Finkelhor, “The Internet, Youth Safety and the Problem of “Juvenoia.’” Crimes against Children Research Center, January 2011.

*READ: Adam Thierer, “Why Do We Always Sell the Next Generation Short?” Forbes, January 8, 2012.


Mon, December 4th

*READ: Darren Rosenblum, “Leave Your Laptops at the Door to My Classroom.” New York Times, January 2, 2017.

*READ: Neil Postman, “Technology as Dazzling Distraction.” Education Digest 1994 59(8).



Wednesday, December 6th

Oral presentations

Monday, December 11th

Oral presentations

Wednesday, December 13th

Oral presentations

Wednesday, December 20th

*Paper 2 due