Do you have any stereotypes in mind about users of social media? If popular culture is any indication, the common view would seem to be that people who use Facebook, Twitter and the like are narcissistic, superficial, self-involved, self-important and just plain silly. And of course, it's mainly the younger generation that is perceived as having a social media problem. The consequences for public life, for an educated and engaged citizenry, would seem to be quite dire.
Do we view our students this way?
If so, it might be worth taking a look at the Pew Internet & American Life Project's recent report, Social networking sites and our lives.
Among the findings, there is evidence that many may find surprising. For example, social media users are more "politically engaged" than the general population.
There is no evidence that [social networking site] users, including those who use Facebook, are any more likely than others to cocoon themselves in social networks of like-minded and similar people, as some have feared.
This is the first national survey of its kind, and worth a quick look — if you don't mind challenging those amusing stereotypes.
PS: If you're interested in this sort of thing, you might want to check out the "Social Media, Social Justice" panel at Rising Tide 6.