I like to tell a joke that states within 20 years, people will have no use for fingers, only thumbs, which will become very long and slender to accommodate rapid texting on very small interfaces. The bottom line is that social networking, whatever its evolutionary track, is here to stay. It is basically the primary way the youth of today communicate.
I am not a social scientist, but I do know something that my wife “imposed” on our children when they were growing up. Whenever she was talking with them, the first thing she would say is, "Look me in the eyes." Our children grew up being able to confidently communicate with others face to face. In social networking, there is no “looking in the eyes;” there is no sense of body language or voice tone. It is a relatively impassionate type of communication. Sure, there are plenty of testimonials and personal reflections, but who is really there to give caring feedback and even a good old-fashioned hug? I don't know about the long-term effects, but I wonder.We all know that there are positives and negatives to anything, and social networking is no different. There are tremendous benefits in a wide variety of ways, but my hope is that we also see the importance of real, non-virtual, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, interaction. In social networking, as in all of life, it is important to have balance. From my perspective, friends should be more than a page listing on the Internet.