Robert Tokunaga, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Communication

Robert Tokunaga


Dr. Robert Tokunaga studies the negative social and psychological implications of communication technology use. His teaching pursuits and research output focus on the unique role of communication technologies in the personal, interpersonal, and public lives of individuals. In his teaching and research, he has been able to demonstrate that public concerns about communication technologies, through media framing and public hysteria, are sometimes exaggerated.

Dr. Tokunaga’s research has addressed a wide range of topics on the “dark side” of Internet participation. Dr. Tokunaga has published extensively in the area of Internet habits, problematic Internet use, and the deficient self-control over Internet use. His main interest in this area are the functional difficulties some Internet users experience from its use. He was also one of the first to measure and evaluate different facets on digital monitoring and surveillance in interpersonal relationships. He comes to University of Texas at San Antonio with a passion to continue his research on the role of intergroup differences in cyberbullying perpetration and victimization in mixed-race schools.

Dr. Tokunaga’s research has been cited in news and popular media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, Vox, CNN, and Cosmopolitan. His work alone and with his colleagues has been previously named in the most cited articles collection in Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, and Computers in Human Behavior. A recent review of scholarly productivity, published in Communication Education in 2018, named Dr. Tokunaga among the Top 1% most published authors in central communication journals both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Tokunaga has taught a wide range of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He has taught basic undergraduate courses central to foundational knowledge of the communication field, including communication theory, quantitative research methods, public speaking, and persuasion. He also developed two undergraduate courses that focus on communication technologies. In one, he led students through a course that addressed the evolution of public rhetoric as a function of the Internet and mobile technologies. He also created a course on how communication technologies can affect personal, interpersonal, and public aspects in one’s life.

Dr. Tokunaga has been active in high school speech and debate activities in the State of Hawai‘i. He advised speech and debate teams for more than eight years and has served as the President of the largest high school speech and debate league in Hawai‘i. He also comes with nonacademic experience, working with elementary and middle school students on topics such as Internet safety in the Department of Education on O’ahu.


  • Conduct of Communication Inquiry
  • Theory and Practice of Interpersonal Communication

Research Interests

  • Interpersonal Communication


  • Ph.D. in Communication, University of Arizona (2012)
  • M.A. in Speech, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (2007)
  • B.A. in Speech, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (2005)

Honors and Awards


Grants, Patents and Clinical Trials