ABSTRACT

It seems highly likely that Web 2.0 technologies and their subsequent iterations will shape the communicative habits of future generations to some signifi cant degree. If this assumption is correct, then the need for refl ection on the ethical impact of such changes is equally clear. The rise of new social media has already provoked considerable debate among scholars over their likely e ect on the well-being of future generations. The outcome of the debate remains equivocal: some conclude that new media promote the well-being of young people by helping them develop essential social and technical skills (Ito et al. 2009) or by increasing social capital and selfexpression (Ko and Kuo 2009), whereas others warn of dangers ranging from neurological defi cits (Derbyshire 2009) to impaired immune function and cardiovascular disease (Sigman 2009). Largely overlooked, however, is a question of tremendous social and ethical importance: What impact will habitual use of new social media have on the development of users’ character, and in particular, on their development of various social virtues essential to the good life?