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Considering the ethical implications of social media in social work education


The ethical implications of the explosion of social media outlets for social work education are explored in this paper. Given that social work education has a dual focus, both of educating students and of socializing practitioners into the profession, the issue of the blurring between what is social and what is professional gains particular salience for both educators and students. Recommendations for educators to ethically address the need to maintain a consistent professional presence online and to avoid potentially harmful dual relationships with students are presented. These recommendations include: abstain from using social media or use only a static professional profile; use only university protected sites to promote collaboration with students in the classroom including all students to avoid any appearance of impropriety; use social media with the utmost discretion mindful of all the risks by creating a very select circle of friends, separating one’s personal site from one’s professional site; develop policies which include not friending any individual student or any current student and inform students about the policies.

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Correspondence to Rana Duncan-Daston.

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Duncan-Daston, R., Hunter-Sloan, M. & Fullmer, E. Considering the ethical implications of social media in social work education. Ethics Inf Technol 15, 35–43 (2013).

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  • Social media
  • Dual relationships
  • Social work education
  • Ethical dilemma
  • Professional presence