Facebook and Skype allow my nephews to connect with each other and with out of state friends in a richer interactive experience than by phone. It also keeps me in touch with what's going on with them, and what they are thinking (I live far from them) in a way I would never have access to by phone. They have shared pretty deep thoughts on Facebook notes. They have done amazingly fun and creative things with video on YouTube. I think teenagers will be teenagers, theses days they just have a wider palette of tools and channels of communication. Social media worries me less than TV - where watching can tend to produce a zombie-like trance with my nephews!
Like any new technology, social media can be both a help and a hindrance to students. The hindrance aspect probably comes more from excessive use, or use at inappropriate times when you should be focused on something else. The same was true with the telephone, TV and radio in an earlier age.
I recently saw a photo of an open book, with the caption: "Study (verb) -- The act of texting, eating and watching TV with an open textbook nearby." To that list I would add "and Facebooking".
I shared that a few nights ago -- on Facebook, of course -- with my college student daughter. The fact that it took her about 30 seconds to "Like" it sort of illustrates the point :)
Educators weigh in: Will Cook, chairman of the English Department at Framingham High School in Framingham, MA, says, "There's a significant part of the population who'd be disinclined to write anything. At least these kids are texting"...