The impact of social media on social work practice

While social media offers a wealth of benefits for practising social workers, it is also important to consider the associated risks. In this blog, we look closely at the pros and cons of social media on social work practice so you can make better informed decisions online. 

What are the benefits of social media for social workers? 

  • Education 

Access to social media is access to knowledge. Connect with like-minded professionals on LinkedIn and join social worker groups so you can chat to others and stay up-to-date with industry news. 

If you’re on the lookout for a new role, you can connect with recruiters on LinkedIn too. Check out our blog to find out more!

  • Facilitates collaboration 

NHS research explored the benefits of social media and e-participation tools for patients, practitioners and carers. The report found that opening the conversation e.g. using hashtags on Twitter is an excellent way of receiving feedback and insight into public knowledge. For example, NHS Brighton & Hove asked the local community what changes they would like to see in policies to manage alcohol consumption and were “overwhelmed” with the level of feedback. Using a hashtag for specific topics or NHS service changes also helps people stay in the loop as it can be used to track developments in the conversation. 

  • Improved communication 

Social media can be used by senior staff as a tool to communicate with their team. This is especially useful for those who prefer feedback that isn’t face-to-face. Having an instant method of communication also makes it easier for managers to regularly check-in with their team. 

  • Sharing information 

Social workers and healthcare professionals can also use their online presence to help educate others. For example, sharing resources with service users who otherwise may not have had access to such information. 


  • Breaching confidentiality

Obviously, as a social worker, it is your duty to preserve client confidentiality. Therefore,  is essential you don’t share any information that could reveal the service user’s identity. 

  • Professional boundaries

Social media blurs the line between professional and personal lives, which can create confusion and difficulties for social workers in maintaining professional boundaries with their clients. If you are communicating with service users online, make sure it remains professional (i.e. don’t share details about your personal life). 

Also be mindful of the kind of content you are sharing with your digital community and make sure it is appropriate, otherwise you  may negatively impact your professional reputation. 

  • Negative comments 

Unfortunately, a lot of negativity exists in the online world. Safeguarding your mental health should be your top priotity, so if you are ever being harassed or critised always block the user and consider taking a social media holiday. 

Overall, it is clear that social media has its place in the social work world and when used effectively, can be a invaluable tool in supporting both social workers and service users. However, it should not be seen as a replacement for traditional models of practice but rather, as a tool to strengthen current practice.

carlette Isaac

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