Check out http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-39-spring-2011/your-students-love-social-media-and-so-can-you. It discusses the importance and relevance of social networking on students, and teenagers in particular. Many of us who were not born with a computer in our hands place greater value on the face-to-face interactions we grew up with, as did our parents. The newer generations speak little but keyboard as a major activity. It is important to them and as teachers we will need to embrace this way of connecting and try to better understand it.
The article discusses the common social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It suggests that such sites can be used not only for socialization but also to address educational subjects. Using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Docs can encourage long-distance educational experiences where students do projects with other students in different countries. Beyond that, there's Skype, which the article does not discuss. Skype can expand connections students have made via Facebook and Twitter so that they become face-to-face, which will make those of us raised in the face-to-face generations more comfortable with the idea.
To quote the article, "...Either we acknowledge it exists and allow ourselves to be part of the conversation, or it's one more way school becomes irrelevant to kids." It is terrifying to think that the current in-school and coming generations might come to consider school irrelevant.