Abstract: (WITHDRAWN) Informal Use of Information and Communication Technology By Social Workers (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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(WITHDRAWN) Informal Use of Information and Communication Technology By Social Workers

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Edith Blit-Cohen, Professor, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Mona Khoury-Kassabri, PhD, Full Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Faye Mishna, PhD, Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Rachel shenhav Goldberg, PhD, Post doctoral fellow, university of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background and purpose:
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have brought about social change since becoming central in the public domain. They have transformed social connections and professional fields. A gap exists, however, between social workers’ acquired knowledge of ways of communicating with their clients and the realities of the field, in which the use of these technologies is widespread. Moreover, there is significant informal use of ICTs, about which knowledge is limited.
The purpose of the current study was to address the lack of information and research about the ways in which social workers interact with their clients using informal ICTs (e.g., e-mail, text message, social networking, etc.).
The study entailed an online survey among social workers in Israel (n = 389) sent via email from the Social Workers Union or through social networks.
Findings indicate that three quarters of the participants (74%) communicated with their clients via email, text message and / or social networking between regular face-to-face sessions. More than half of the participants stated that there is no policy in their workplace regarding the use of informal ICT communication with their clients. In addition, more than a quarter of those who used online communication with their clients, indicated that this communication was not documented in the client's portfolio. There were few differences based on personal and professional characteristics among the social workers in terms of their informal use of ICTs with clients.
Conclusions and implications:
ICT have brought about social change since entering the public domain and there is no doubt of the significant influence on both the Social Work profession and social workers. In light of the lack of reported policies in workplaces that would guide social workers about what is allowed and what is prohibited in terms of using ICT, we consider it important to develop and adjust policy first on the ethical level and later in relation to practical implications. At the field level, the training of students and social workers should be updated with regards to the use of ICT with clients. At the policy level, we propose to set up a committee with representatives from various ministries, as well as representatives from various local authorities, representatives from the Association of Social Workers and even representatives from associations and private organizations that employ social workers and social workers in order to develop policy and guidelines which will guide social workers about the use of ICT.