Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Adolescents in foster care require guidelines for safe social media use, expert says

Date:
September 5, 2012
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
About 73 percent of online American teens use social networking sites, such as Facebook, to share photos, interests and experiences with others. For youths in the foster care system, sharing information online presents additional safety and privacy issues. A researcher recommends that child welfare agencies develop policies to guide how adolescents in foster care use social media.

About 73 percent of online American teens use social networking sites, such as Facebook, to share photos, interests and experiences with others, according to Pew Research Center. For youths in the foster care system, sharing information online presents additional safety and privacy issues. A University of Missouri researcher recommends that child welfare agencies develop policies to guide how adolescents in foster care use social media.

Dale Fitch, an assistant professor in the MU School of Social Work, says agencies usually advocate restricting how youths in the foster system use social media in order to avoid potential liabilities that could result in lawsuits. However, like other teens who ignore adults' instructions concerning information disclosure online, teens in foster care turn to the Internet to express their identities and share their stories. Social media is a positive tool that helps adolescents in foster care connect with society, but the lack of guidelines leaves them at risk for cyber-bullying, unintentional disclosure of identifying information and personal harm, Fitch said.

"Foster parents and caseworkers might tell teens not to use Facebook, but they're using it anyway, which opens them up to negative consequences," Fitch said. "They need to be able to share instances of unwanted social media contact with their guardians, and they might not reveal information if they've been told not to use Facebook."

Extensive policies regulate how records of youths in the foster system are shared with others such as foster parents, school personnel, health care professionals and caseworkers, so encouraging teens in foster care to use the Internet allows them a sense of privacy and control over their own information, Fitch said.

"Although adolescents in foster care are very much aware of their own safety issues and are very protective of their foster families and biological siblings, they may not know the implications of sharing information online," Fitch said. "Working with them to safely use social media is a huge step."

Additionally, allowing youths in foster care to use social media could give their caretakers insight into the youths' lives they might not have otherwise, which could help adults identify development issues, Fitch said.

"If adolescents have few friends on Facebook, foster parents need to find out whether they have other, hidden online profiles or if they're having problems making friends," Fitch said. "Adults could learn a lot more about what's going on in the teens' lives and what they're thinking about. Those conversations happen on a limited basis now."

Fitch used a tool called Critical Systems Heuristics to create a framework child welfare agencies can use to develop privacy guidelines to ensure the safe use of social media. He says youths in the foster system should be included in the policy-making process in addition to child welfare workers, foster parents or guardians, juvenile officers and judges.

The paper, "Youth in Foster Care and Social Media: A Framework for Developing Privacy Guidelines," was published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services. The School of Social Work is part of the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. The original article was written by Kate McIntyre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dale Fitch. Youth in Foster Care and Social Media: A Framework for Developing Privacy Guidelines. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 2012; 30 (2): 94 DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2012.700854

Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Adolescents in foster care require guidelines for safe social media use, expert says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905111146.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2012, September 5). Adolescents in foster care require guidelines for safe social media use, expert says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905111146.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Adolescents in foster care require guidelines for safe social media use, expert says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905111146.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

Air Force: $4.2B Saved from Grounding A-10s

AP (Apr. 23, 2014) Speaking about the future of the United States Air Force, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh says the choice to divest the A-10 fleet was logical and least impactful. (April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins