AL Fall Child Welfare Conference 2014: Professional & Ethical Use of Social Media in Social Work Practice

Today I am presenting today at the Thirteenth Annual Fall Social Work Conference sponsored by the University of Alabama’s School of Social Work and the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources in Birmingham, AL.  The purpose of this post is to provide supplemental information for today’s presentation. My session will focus on the need for social workers to be aware of and adept at using social media for professional practice, focusing on knowledge, and values.  The learning objectives for the participants include:

1.Explain why social workers need to understand social media and digital literacy
2.Discuss the knowledge, skills and values associated with professional use of social media
3.Reflect on own use social media in a professional context

Here is a link to the Prezi that I will show during the presentation .  A resource handout is also available here, which include links to references and websites.

Here is the proposal for the presentation:

Social media include applications and technologies on the World Wide Web and on mobile devices which create interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.  There is a growing awareness that social work practitioners need to be adept at using social media and technology as part of their practice with clients of all system sizes (NASW & ABSW, 2005; Perron et al, 2010).  This presentation will focus on the need for social workers to be aware of and adept at using social media in two important ways.  First, social media can be valuable tools for professional development and continuing education.  Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and professional websites provide valuable information and resources for practice and opportunities to network and collaborate with other practitioners.  To effectively engage with social media for professional development, social workers need to know how to create digital identities; consume, assess and produce online content; collaborate with others; and educate and motivate other professionals to use social media.  Second, social workers need to understand how to effectively engage client systems with social media.  This includes a range of knowledge and skills from maintaining ethical professional boundaries to educating clients on how to find credible online resources to advocating for those who do not have access to the internet in low-income or rural communities.  Specific examples and cases for this presentation will focus on child welfare and the influence of social media on the lives of children, teens and their families.


NASW (National Association of Social Workers)/ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards). (2005). NASW & ASWB Standards for technology and social work practice. Retrieved on July 30, 2012 from

Perron, B. E., Taylor, H. O., Glass, J. E., & Margerum-Leys, J. (2010). Information and communication technologies in social work. Advances in social work, 11(2), 67-81.

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

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