Staying Safe and Professional Online as a Social Care Worker

A recent online session delivered by the SSSC focused on the use of social media and cyber security.

It is important to note for most social media apps, there is a minimum age limit of 13, and as such, the vast majority of children attending OSC services should not be accessing social media. In terms of social media requests from children/young adults you have worked with in the past, SOSCN would advise that you do not accept friend requests. Although you may have had a friendly relationship it was still very much a professional one which should be maintained at all times even beyond them attending the service- in the physical world, would you have a friendship with the child outside of the service? No, and this should be guiding you in your decisions in the virtual world. How much personal information would you actually share? Only a very limited amount. Remember it is easy to overshare in the virtual world and social media may seem like a private place but it is very much a public forum.

The following information is taken from the online session and is not childcare specific but general to all social care workers:

Should you personally use social media?
  • People underestimate how 'findable' they are. No social media providers can guarantee your confidentiality.
  • Other people can easily access and see your posts- how accessible are you online?
  • Remember, everything you post online is public. People can easily find, copy and share your posts without your knowledge, and even if you delete a post, it 'may already be out there'.
  • Stop and think before you post: is this something you should be sharing? Private or confidential information about services users cannot be posted and you shouldn't criticise or talk negatively about your employer or colleagues.
  • Never use social media to raise a concern or escalate an issue.
  • Follow your own organisation's social policy media use.
Should you promote your service on social media?
  • Many services do successfully use social media, however as for personal use, there is a number of things which should be taken into account.
  • Never post confidential or personal information relating to service users and carers.
  • If you are taking and sharing photographs make sure you have consent to use them, or ensure that individuals are not identifiable. (In the case of children and young people, in addition to seeking parents'/carers' consent SOSCN advises that you should seek the young person's consent.)
Duty to report other social care workers if they are posting inappropriate or concerning material
  • Under Codes of Practice (Employee) “3.5 Tell my employer, or an appropriate authority, when a colleague's fitness to practise may be impaired.”, this includes personal social media posts.
Cyber Security & online safety security
  • This could be hacking of computers, websites, social media accounts etc or it could also be scammers defrauding people.
  • There are three types of organisations which can be targeted:
    • Those which will be targeted
    • Those which have been targeted
    • Those which don't realise they have been targeted
      In other words, all organisations and individuals can be targeted.
  • Where do scammers get their information? Everything which is shared online.

Organisations and individuals need to know what the online risks are and how these can be minimised- the SSSC has produced various resources to support this learning.

Social Media Guidance for Social Service Workers- policy (pdf)

Youtube Video- SSSC Social Media Guidance

last updated: 07/12/2022