What is social media?

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1 The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) is responsible for registering people who work in social services and regulating their education and training. Our role is to raise standards of practice, strengthen and support the workforce and increase the protection of people who use services. The Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and Employers set out clear standards for social workers and their employers so those who use services know what they can expect from their workers. We must adhere not just to the letter of the Codes of Practice but also to their spirit. The fastest growing subject of conduct referrals to the SSSC is online behaviour. So we've published guidance for social service workers and employers on using social media. It's available on our website but here's an overview. What is social media? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yammer, Instagram, Flickr, Ning, del.icio.us but that's not all - social media covers many other digital tools. even and SMS are social media tools! In Scotland, 7 in 10 of us have internet access at home. We spend around 13 hours online each week, at home, at work, and on the move. And most of us with internet access use it for networking through social media. Social media provides new ways to connect, interact and learn. We can find people with similar interests, we can share knowledge and experiences. We can learn from each other, and we have an opportunity to develop ourselves personally and professionally. Knowledge isn't static, it's a work in progress. The internet gives you access to blogs and websites which allow you to read and understand social work in a broader context and allow you to take much more responsibility for your learning and knowledge base.

2 Your reach can extend locally, nationally and internationally. But it isn't just about making connections with those who are influential It's also about making connections with those who use services. And the great thing about any chat that takes place in an open, social space is that it allows anyone, from students to service users, heads of services, academics, policy makers, and practitioners, to join in. But remember It's very easy to become carried away and believe that social media and the ability to crowd source ideas and share problems will provide the answers to all ills. It doesn't remove the need for face-to-face communication. Remember the 'social' part of social media. It's more about the quality of connections you make and the way you are able to build conversations into relationships. This can be forgotten sometimes in the rush towards building up lists of friends or followers. The internet moves information quickly, whether for good or bad. And the lines between our professional and personal lives are blurring. You might have an anonymous identity but that doesn't exempt you from the Codes of Practice. Respect the profession and the type of work you do. It doesn't mean you shouldn't use these tools, but do so responsibly. It's important to consider your role as a professional social service worker. Registered workers must work to the SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers eg. Code 5 says that you must uphold public trust and confidence in social services whether you are in work or outside of work.

3 You need to follow the same standards in online activities as you would in any aspect of your life. Social media lends itself to a multitude of possible ethical issues in relation to clients, social workers, and social media: conflict of interest privacy and confidentiality inappropriate self-disclosure and dual relationships. Is looking at a service user's profile or blog an invasion of privacy or does it provide beneficial information, especially in emergency situations? It should go without saying that confidentiality should never be breached! While some networks can seem safe, there is no need to share details of your work. To friend or not to friend? Where should a social worker draw the line with a service user? Social service workers need to consider those relationships with people who use services in the context of the maintenance of professional boundaries. As a social service worker you must consider the potential impact of any relationship, online or otherwise, on your ability to maintain those boundaries. You may not know if someone online is using social services, but if you become aware that they are, it is important that you discuss particular circumstances that apply with your line manager to ensure that the consequences of a relationship are considered in terms of your ability to deliver safe care and to comply with the Codes of Practice. Allowing a person who uses services or their carer to be your online friend or follower is not acceptable for a registered social service worker it creates a personal relationship outside of your workplace. And it leaves both workers and people who use services open to allegations from comments they might post.

4 No need for me to worry I don t use this social media stuff! Remember you might have an online presence, even if you don't have a Facebook or Twitter account. Have you been to a wedding recently, or a birthday party, where friends, family, or maybe colleagues, took photos? Are they are users of Facebook? The photos from that event might well now be in cyberspace. People who know you may see them. Are you absolutely happy that your actions at that celebration are now in the public eye? Find out the risks It's crucial to understand online safety, not only as social workers but as adults generally, because that knowledge helps to keep vulnerable children and adults safe. Take time to find out about available technologies and potential risks, even if you don't intend to engage with social media sites yourself. Remember to also keep up to date; it is a field which is constantly evolving. Is private really that private? Be aware anyone can search for information about you online, just as they do for any service or product. Avoid putting personal information on your page, such as where you work or your phone number. And no matter how private we think we are, once you ve put something out there, it s out there. That said, make the most of what privacy settings do exist. The internet is not anonymous, nor does it forget. Try searching for yourself to see how well protected your personal online presence really is!

5 No comment! Be responsible for the way you behave, and for what you post and use common sense and judgement. As a social service worker you should always be respectful of the privacy and feelings of others. Don t talk about the people you work with treat colleagues with respect both in the physical workplace or online. You should not use it for attack or abuse, to make malicious comments, to air concerns about issues at work or provide privileged and confidential details about work or individuals as this could be a breach of the SSSC Code of Practice. Be clear and transparent Using employer logos may imply you are authorised to speak on behalf of your employer. You're probably not. On your social media networks, you only represent yourself. But official or not, inappropriate remarks could damage your employer's reputation or a colleague's representation or your own! And finally Don't ignore the value of social media for clients : It now plays a part in the development of services, particularly in the context of personalisation. Many service users are using social media to increase their choice and control.

6 So, in short, we expect you to Use your common sense Always think twice Protect privacy Respect any policies of the organisation you work for And remember your responsibilities as a social services worker

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