Top Ten Reasons For Social Workers to be Web 2.0 Literate

Gold top 10 winner

10. You’re at a party and want to demonstrate that the social work profession is part of the 21st century–that we, like our clients, can change and learn new things.

9. You’re interested in understanding the cultural context of the lives of your clients who interact in the Web 2.0 world, especially since social media has overtaken pornography in becoming the #1 activity of the web and is growing more popular every day (Social Media Revolution).

8. You want to use the fact that your adolescent clients are gamers as an asset in treatment (see Tanks, Trauma, and Epic Loot and Want to Change Behavior AND Feel Heroic? There’s an App for That…)

7. You want to really know what’s happening, moment by moment, the next time there is a major disaster somewhere. (Disaster Experts: Twitter is Serious Stuff)

6. You might like to share a resource with a client (or a friend) that will help coordinate caregiving and create a caregiving community for an aging parent who lives miles away.

5. You want to connect to, share with, and learn from a vibrant, interactive community of social workers from all over the world (for example, check out Social Work Blog Directory and my list of Social Workers on Twitter).

4. You foresee what’s ahead: that more and more people will be expecting their health care providers to interact with them via social media, and that this will shift the dynamics in health care relationships (see The Real Challenge of Health Care Social Media and upcoming Pew Internet report, “The Rise of the e-Patient: Understanding Social Networks and Online Health Information Seeking”).

3. You like the idea of people in your community seeing the assets that are near them, searching for those that are free, and being able to add the important ones that they see have been missed (see Arounja as one community is using it).

2. You are looking for a way to help your agency (or favorite organization) to develop fast, inexpensive ways to communicate with stakeholders and build support, including financial support (see NTen)

1. You want to let the world know what you had for dinner.

I would love to see more reasons…please add some!

Photo courtesy of Sam Churchill

16 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons For Social Workers to be Web 2.0 Literate

  1. I love having connected with an international community of social workers through my blog but mostly through Twitter but equally valuable have been the links I’ve made with journalists, policy makers and representatives of government that I would never have been able to have dialogues with on an equal footing. People from all walks of life and many places are much more willing to listen in this virtual environment.
    Mostly, I think that the new ‘ways of working’ are permeating all aspects of life and work is just another element of that.

    Except facebook – facebook is only for people I know.. there have to be some boundaries 🙂


    • Excellent additional reason–I, too, really value the insight and relationships I’ve gained with people from other professions, as well as keeping up with major foundations and nonprofits all over the world.


  2. I love this post, Nancy!

    What a fun, great way of getting the point across > all mental health professionals need to have web 2.0 skills and/or get these skills sharpened and updated for all the reasons you’ve mentioned above.

    I think you actually captured all the key reasons. Perhaps you could add that some clients may wish to have therapy conducted via one of the modalities facilitated by the web – be it via skype, videochat, virtual reality… and if you have no clue as to what these are, there is no way that you would be able to provide this type of service.


  3. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Dorlee!

    That would definitely be a great reason to add (in place of #1) although it might scare some folks off 😉 …especially the virtual reality one…that seems to be the hardest for people to get their brains around.

    As I think about it, about 10 years ago, when I last taught a social work with groups class, I had the whole class do a chat group simulation and every student had to join some type of online group and discuss the group process/dynamics issues–how they were different & similar to face to face groups. At that time, the choices were chat groups (e.g., AA meetings), listserv groups, or forums/bulletin boards. Today I would definitely add in the option for groups within a place like Second Life (where there are many self-help groups that meet), and video groups (if people can find them). This whole option could be added with the reason you’ve mentioned.


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  5. I love this post. Especially number 1 🙂 Keeping it light-hearted is important, because so much of social media is ephemeral, but extremely important. I think I need to share this list with some of my students because they have a hard time seeing the value of social media in social work.


    • Thanks, Jimmy! I hope the light-hearted voice makes it easier for people to hear. If you end up getting any feedback from your students I would be very interested in hearing it. I’m always looking for ways to get this material across to the skeptical masses of social workers/human services people.


  6. Great Post Nancy, I would have commented earlier but I was busy with reason #29, learning how to shoot Pirate Ships in EVE. aiyayay.

    But seriously folks here’s a few more reasons:

    1. So you are prepared the first time your teenage patient sends you a Facebook invitation.

    2. If you are starting or hoping to maintain a private practice, and have noticed that the majority of referrals are coming through your colleague’s websites rather than the yellow pages.

    3. If you want to teach a workshop or class to colleagues around the world via webinars.

    4. If you teach graduate students and want to encourage them to do class projects beyond the stale notecards and Powerpoints. Notice how our student colleagues like Dorlee are patiently but consistently nudging us to get educated on this stuff!

    5. So you can run a DBT group and provide group members with Tweets throughout the week reminding them of specific techniques and encouraging them to use them.

    6. So you can subscribe to journals in .pdf format and help cut down on the use of paper and the death of trees.

    7. Because we have passed the moment in history when understanding about technology was optional.

    I know, I know, I’m a zealot. But I’m a friendly zealot. There are loads more reasons, but maybe nows when you should ask yourself, “can I come up with 10 reasons NOT to learn about Web 2.0 and social work?” 🙂


    • I love all your reasons, Mike, and I especially like the challenge to come up with 10 reasons not to learn about it. Of course, anyone who would do so will probably also not be sharing them here. 😉


  7. Nancy, I so appreciate this post (and thank you for linking to my blog as well). My #1 reason for encouraging helping professionals to get Web 2.0 literate is for the simple reason that it is where the people are. Period.

    If we want to help people live their daily lives and are true to our mission, we need to be where they ‘hang out.’ They spend much of their professional and personal time online, interacting with each other.

    As helping professionals, if we’re not in their space and don’t understand their experiences than we can’t be effective in our work.


  8. Your perspective rings very true for me, Susan .I actually made the case in a prior post ( that an unwillingness to understand the Web 2.0 world is a failure to practice with cultural competence. Interestingly, you can see from the comments that not all the responders agreed that they needed to understand the context of people’s daily lives in order to do effective therapy with them.

    Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this dialogue!


  9. Top Ten excuses social workers don’t use…

    10. These young whipper snappers and those darn internets will be the end of good client care.

    9. Jane Addams didn’t need this technology.

    8. You mean there are more uses of the web beyond looking at porn?

    7. My dentist told me he can’t fix my Bluetooth.

    6. My employer don’t reimburse for technology use.

    5. Interoffice mail works just fine – thank you.

    4. If this really saves time, it will only lead to me having to look busy longer during my work day.

    3. I already use technology a lot; you should see how many clients left messages on my voice mail.

    2. Burnout!

    1. I heard the Web 3.0 is coming out soon, I’ll learn more about it then.


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