Danah Boyd recently shared her personal experience in researching networked youth. She studies social networks as they develop and has a unique perspective. Her blog is worth checking out, too.
I've seen the increase in networked teenagers while teaching High School. And I know a fair cross-section of networked youth and adults. It's obvious that 'networked' individuals consider their online communication as an important and valued part of daily life.
For many, their social reality does not delineate between face-to-face communication and networked communication. But there is more to being 'networked' than just communication...
More on that in a second, but first let me argue that social reality is culture. Understand? The social reality of a group is its behavior and attitudes, artistic achievements, customs and social institutions, etc. By definition, its culture.
Now here is the kicker: the social reality, the culture of the networked, is the network itself.
The digital social network exists as not as an extension of an individual or corporate entity. From the 'networked' individual's point-of-view, the network is social reality. And being 'networked' implies becoming part of a new, rapidly evolving network - a new culture.