Paper presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July, 2014.
Melanie Sage & Andrew Quinn (University of North Dakota, USA).
Social workers and other professionals are increasingly using social media in their professional lives as a way to network, serve clients, share information, or find information. Education about technology and social media in social work is often integrated sporadically in to programs, and based on the comfort level or experience of instructors.
This research aims to understand the beliefs and practices of social work students who have completed a social work field placement in an accredited program. Participants responded to survey questions which explore their beliefs about appropriate use of social media in the workplace, as well as the level of training they received in their academic programs and work sites. This study reports on feedback from over 100 students and recent social work graduates. The data offers information about the use of social media in their personal lives and use in field placements, and offer insight in to the widely disperse beliefs of students about whether and when it is appropriate to search for or engage with clients using social media. Data is shared related to student perceptions of agency beliefs around social media use and the need for ongoing education. Two thirds of respondents check their social media sites multiple times each day, and forty percent are on social media during work hours. A third of them search for clients online. Almost half believe that it is acceptable to search for client information on social media for the sake of curiosity. Despite these figures, half of respondents do not know whether their agency permits seeking out or connecting with clients via social media. Qualitative responses indicate the strong polarized feelings of students about appropriate uses of social media. Implications for training and education are discussed.
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