Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

December/January 2013Vol. 13, No. 11Framework for Social Media Privacy Guidelines

More than 90 percent of U.S. teenagers have access to the Internet, and roughly 73 percent of those teens use social media networks. Undoubtedly, youth in foster care are among that 73 percent. Citing the unknown prevalence of child welfare agency policies for youth in care who use social media, a new article presents a framework for developing these important guidelines.

Dale Fitch, an assistant professor in the Missouri University School of Social Work, asserts that allowing youth in care to use social media, and presenting them with strategies for securing their privacy, presents a number of positive implications for child welfare professionals. Caseworkers and other involved adults may gain insight into the youth's life that he or she may not otherwise disclose. Other concerns, such as developmental issues, may also be discovered. Using the Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH), a structure for reflective practice based on practical philosophy and systems thinking, Fitch created a framework for child welfare agencies to develop guidelines to ensure youth privacy online.

Fitch's article presents an application of the framework to serve as a guide for agencies, information on the scope of social media use among youth, and strategies for how concerned parties may work together to bridge the gap between the unrestricted use of social media and developing guidelines for safe use. 

"Youth in Foster Care and Social Media: A Framework for Developing Privacy Guidelines," by Dale Fitch, appeared in the Journal of Technology in Human Services, July 2012, and is available for purchase here: 

In September, the University of Missouri News Bureau featured an article about Fitch's framework, which is available on the News Bureau's website:

Related Item

On Wednesday, November 28, the Children's Bureau hosted the sixth topical webinar in its centennial webinar series. The webinar, "Friending Your Clients on Facebook: How Social Media Influences Child Welfare Practice," explored the role of social media in child welfare practice, including the importance of developing strong social media policies and procedures and the ethical issues related to the use of social media to gather information about and communicate with clients in child welfare practice. Presenters included Dr. Dale Fitch, author of "Youth in Foster Care and Social Media: A Framework for Developing Privacy Guidelines" and Brittany Smith, Director of Community Management, Children's Mental Health Network. 

A recording and transcript of the webinar will soon be posted on the Children's Bureau's centennial website: