Youth Work and Social Media: Boundaries and Guidelines

20 June 2008 — Leave a comment

There’s a great conversation happening over at UK Youth Online about practical steps for youth workers to take while interacting with young people online.

Most people are taking the view that to ensure accountability and transparency, workers should have a different profile or login for work and personal.

I’m interested in this debate as I currently don’t do this and instead have one personal profile that I use for everything. This is because many of the young people I work with know me through the church and I know their families well. Also the church does not yet have any guidelines or expectations around online media. Personally, I am well aware of the tensions when posting information online, so I try to remain consistent in my actions and only post material I would be happy for my mum, pastor and young people to see! I don’t have a “hidden” private life so am happy to share with all.

However, I do recognise the potential danger in not separating work and home. My personal views could easily be attributed to my church or work agency or vice versa, and certain larger organisations will have rules or expectations regarding your conduct online. Posting more personal items could put you in conflict with your employer. There is also the problem of young people being able to contact you at all times, even when you’re on holiday and making sure that all these exchanges are logged. So there are certainly advantages to separating out work and personal profiles.

What’s your view?

Jon

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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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