Innovations in Social Work Research and Practice with Youth: The Power of Social Media and Technology
With technological advances in social media and technology as agents for social change, it is essential for the field of social work to consider the implications, intersections and impacts of social media and technology practice, especially with youth (Johnston-Goodstar, et al,). Yet, to date, the role of social media and technology has been underutilized and understudied in social work research and practice hold great promise in interventions related to health, substance use, violence intervention and youth participatory research. There has been too little research about the ways in which social media and technology will shape social work research, practice, and education in the future. Overall, in order to advance the field of social work, researchers and practitioners must become aware of the networked lives of youth and the implications of social media behavior and technology patterns across youth in diverse settings (LaMendola, 2010).
This panel will explore the power of social media and technology in social work research and practice with a diverse youth, defined as ages 12-24, sample with particular attention to the ways social media and technology impact research and interventions. As the focus is to examine innovations and new approaches for research and practice, we purposively sought a group of papers that could showcase the rich diversity of examples for discussion.
Papers reflect different foci for the use of technology and social media. The first paper explores a participatory community-based process to engage youth in the development of an intervention utilizing a HIV prevention health app in an urban community. The second paper discusses a multi-level research project that used a large-scale survey of teen’s social media usage to develop a youth-led intervention to use social media to combat dating violence in a large scale suburban high school. The third paper presents findings on how practitioners and service providers can use social media in developing youth interventions. Finally, the fourth paper delves into the use of Twitter to both understand and disrupt gang behavior in a major metropolitan area.
In conclusion, social media and technology holds great promise and potential for developing and adapting empirical methodologies, improving and expanding modes of practice and advancing and creating new theory in social work research and practice with youth across social settings.