It’s 2013. Our modern Internet is now 24 years old, email is about 20 years old, folks have been blogging their personal lives and what they ate for breakfast for nearly as long, and the proliferation of social media has allowed us to share those meal pictures and stories for nearly 10 years. Roughly 80% of folks in the United States are online and in a variety of ways.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are electronic tools used to convey, manipulate and store information. The exponential growth of Internet access and ICTs greatly influenced social, political, and economic processes in the United States, and worldwide. Regardless of the level of practice, ICTs will continue influencing the careers of social workers and the clients they serve. ICTs have received some attention in the social work literature and curriculum, but we argue that this level of attention is not adequate given their ubiquity, growth and influence, specifically as it relates to upholding social work ethics.
Significant attention is needed to help ensure social workers are responsive to the technological changes in the health care system, including the health care infrastructure and use of technology among clients. Social workers also need ICT competencies in order to effectively lead different types of social change initiatives or collaborate with professionals of other disciplines who are using ICTs as part of existing strategies.
Show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of “networked individualism” liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks.
- ICTs provide resources, avenues for education, and connections for practice
- In some cases, ICTs are the vehicle for practice. For example, there are many ways to use social media for advocacy.
- It is unethical not to use and explore best practices for clients and communities
- ICTs may have unintended consequences
- By remaining technology luddites, social work may be committing mass cultural incompetence
- How are your clients using ICTs?
- How are you using technology in your practice?
- How can we use technology better?
- What connections are we missing by keeping our practice and education offline?
- What ethical considerations do we need to consider when exploring and implementing ICTs in our work?