Title

The Impact of Electronic Communication and Social Media on Child Welfare Practice

Department

Social Work

Date of Paper/Work

2014

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Type of Paper/Work

Clinical research paper

Advisors

Dr. Katharine Hill

Abstract

The present literature regarding the intersection of technology and child welfare practice has primarily focused on the impact of these technologies on youth and families. There has been very little research that has focused on how child welfare workers perceive the direct impact that electronic communication and social media use has had on their practice. The research questions guiding this exploratory study asked child welfare workers whether or not the use of electronic communication and social media has made working with youth easier, if use of these technologies has introduced any difficulties, and if any challenges and/or benefits of using these technologies have emerged that have not previously been discovered in the literature. One hundred and thirty-six child welfare workers completed an anonymous online survey addressing their experiences regarding the impact that electronic communication and social media use has had on their practice. The findings indicate that e-mail and text message use have made work with youth easier, yet distinct difficulties have emerged for practitioners in relation to electronic communication and social media use. Within the qualitative findings, new elements have emerged including issues with harassment and the ethics related to monitoring clients’ online activities. Future research is necessary in order to address the limitations of this study and to stay current with the impact that emerging technologies might have on social work practice.

Keywords

child welfare, technology, email, text messaging, social media

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.