I've revisited the article below and thought it might be of interest to readers. I started this blog in October 2012 and I'm happy to report there have been more that 5700 visitors so far!
I really appreciate people for visiting the site and hope social service professionals are finding it helpful and spread the word!
Editor & Publisher
BC Social Workers blog
(2011). College Conversation: The Newsletter of the B.C. College of Social Workers, pg. 7.
Susan Mankita, an expert on social networking as it applies to the practice of social work, addressed registrants on this important issue. We present here a brief summary of her talk. The College looks forward to developing guidelines on the use of social networking with registrants to better inform their online presence.
The internet has fundamentally changed society and how we, and in particular young people, relate to one another. This new reality creates both opportunity and challenge, none more so than for professionals navigating the digital age. Are you a digital migrant or a digital citizen?
Social media is about relationships, sharing ideas and thoughts, and creating and exchanging information in a dynamic and fluid environment. It’s been said that postings to social media sites are the tattoos of the generation and are just as difficult to remove. So what is a social worker to do?
The College’s Code of Ethics says that a Registered Social Worker shall maintain the best interest of the client as the primary obligation. In the digital age, this presents a number of ethical dilemmas:
- What is our responsibility to clients who seem unconcerned about protecting their own privacy?
- What should we do if clients try to engage us clinically through social media?
- Should a social worker accept clients as friends on Facebook and other similar sites?
The benefits of social media include access to a broad range of connections, access to people, support and information, and a new type of environment to explore relationships and boundaries with clients. Those benefits must be balanced against:
- The blurring of boundaries between professional and personal worlds
- The changing nature of communication and the relationship with clients privacy
In this context, it is important to build a new set of best practices that include starting from where the clients are, opportunities for collaboration and support, and increasing access to trusted social circles.
Regulatory bodies are turning their attention towards the use of social media by professionals. Until there are guidelines, social workers are advised to proceed with caution when using social media to ensure that they act ethically, ensure professional competence, protect clients, and uphold the values of the profession.