Foster families and Relative providers who use social media sites such face book can post family pictures on social networking sites that include foster children, if the following conditions are met:
- Before posting pictures contact your case worker or certifier for this approval. This will ensure posting pictures of foster children in your home poses no potential safety risks related to the child or to you. In some cases the child’s family cannot know where the child is placed.
- The children are not identified by name
- The children are not identified as foster children
- There is no discussion on the social networking sites about case specific information about the child or the child’s family
New Technology: Recommendations & Guidelines
In today’s world, it is important that children & young adults entering the workforce be technologically literate. Unfortunately, children in the child welfare system often have less computer access and use due to residential instability, educational discontinuity, and other environmental obstacles. It is critical that young people in foster care are not left even farther behind their peers due to a digital divide.
Foster parents of adolescents must often weigh risks versus rewards when making decisions about the activities of youth in their care. In the same way, caregivers must ultimately use their best judgment when deciding whether to provide access to new technologies and in supervising the online activities of young people in their care. Recognizing these challenges, we have opted to issue a series of guidelines rather than make policy recommendations. For the purposes of these guidelines, we’ve addressed the use of technology by adolescent-aged young people (the Center for Disease Control defines adolescence from age 10 to 24).
Restricting access to the internet and other technology on the basis of age is extremely hard to get right and, where the internet is concerned, has tended towards a ‘blanket 18 and under’ and ’18 and above’ approach. However, there are clear differences in maturity and development between a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old. Two sixteen year olds, in fact, may have very different levels of maturity. Issuing recommendations on age alone would be unreasonable. Therefore, age recommendations have not been addressed in these guidelines and judgment of the maturity level and dependability is left to those who know the young person, their caregiver and caseworker.
A balance between benefits and safety are best kept in check by a team of people concerned with the youth’s best interest.
Foster Parent and Caregiver role
Foster parents and caregivers should develop, at minimum, an understanding of the benefits and challenges of the technology most used by young people, including social networks, email, and texting. As the primary caregiver of the child/youth, foster parents are responsible for educating the youth on internet safety. However, caseworkers, certifiers, and other involved adults should ensure that foster parents have the skill necessary to accomplish this task. Rules for a particular youth should not be based on the actions of another youth or group or media story — it’s important to view youth as individuals and not bar them from technology based on the inappropriate actions of others.
Child Welfare Worker role
It is necessary that case workers learn to use technology and social networking sites to connect with young people they work with, so they can better understand issues of appropriateness and safety. Caseworkers need to discuss internet safety with youth on a regular basis and assess the youth’s ability to use technology in a responsible manner. Caseworkers should also check in with foster parents and refer them to training on internet safety if needed.
The certifier’s role includes discussing each child's use of the internet and Social Networking Sites (SNS) with the Foster Parent. Certifiers will assess training needs regarding internet safety and refer to appropriate training resources.
Young peoples’ role
Young people must be responsible for their own actions, online and otherwise if youth are provided access to technology.
Control over allowed websites and filters can be utilized to protect youth. Young people in foster care should be allowed (with appropriate supervision) access to the internet and taught to use it responsibly.
The level of supervision for using the internet is determined based on a youth’s age, maturity, and trustworthiness. Supervision of a youth’s internet use may fall to many, including teachers, but primary responsibility rests with foster parents.
Foster parents and caregivers should discuss the internet rules for their home with each young person. Below are links to well known and authoritative guides with advice for safety on the internet:
What you need to know about Social Media, Networking and Texting!
Social media is any form of communication between people and the internet. It’s a large list of online activities that include
- Talking (using Voice Over Internet Protocolor VOIP)
- Sharing media files like pictures and videos
- Social networking
- Video gaming
- Web logs or “blogs”
Facebook and You Tube are popular sites, there are too many to include in this article, simply knowing new and popular websites pop up all the time and what was popular one day may not be the next and you always want to stay a little ahead of your kids if possible.
Social Networking websites like Facebook and MySpace are used as ways to communicate, share pictures, music and videos. Facebook has become increasingly popular over the past five years and has millions of users worldwide. It requires users to have an individual e-mail account and be above the age of 13.
Once a person has a Facebook account, he or she can “friend” people by accepting requests. The site has several security settings that may hide or not hide each user’s information. Facebook settings make it much easier for people to see other people’s information, but a lot of people are not aware of this. It’s crucial to know how to set and check account settings.
Blogs are basically online journaling websites. A blog is similar to Facebook and MySpace, but is more focused. Think of a blog as an online diary or an extended holiday newsletter. There are privacy settings for blogs so you can control who can view them. Blogs can display pictures, text, videos and links to other sites.
MMOGs (Video Gaming) stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Game. Some of the popular games are Crossfire, World of Warcraft, Doom and SimCity. Today’s MMOGs can have thousands of users worldwide playing one specific game online at a time. Often MMOGs are played on computers, cell phones and with video game units like the Xbox, Wii and PlayStation.
Instant Messaging (IMing) is a way to communicate with others online. The cool thing about IMing is that you can have online real time text chats (private conversations) with one or more people. IMing can be done within browsers such as Yahoo or with services like Twitter or AOL. Certain websites like Skype let users have conversations using video calling technology, as well, if you have a video camera.
Text messaging or texting is a form communication between cell phones over cell phone networks. Texting also uses the SMS (short message service ) language and is extremely popular; examples such as LOL ( laugh out loud) BTW ( by the way ) Many people find texting quicker and more effective than talking.
Video and picture sharing websites like YouTube, Flickr and Photobucket let account users upload videos and pictures from various electronic devices like cell phones, cameras and video recorders. YouTube is a public website, and users are allowed to watch videos without having an account. To post something on YouTube, however, you need to an account, and that allows you to control privacy settings. YouTube videos can also be shared and cross-posted on other websites.
Twitter is a social networking service that allows users to provide small updates, messages or entries using less than 140 characters using the SMS text language. The messages, once posted, are called “tweets.” Twitter also allows users to cross-post and share on other websites.
Forums and message boards provide places on the internet for people to discuss, meet or ask questions, usually about one main subject. There are thousands of message boards and forums. Some require that you become a member and have a user name and password before joining. Forums and message boards are not done in real time, meaning users have to wait for others to read their message and respond.
One message board you might want to encourage your child to go to is http://fyi3.com/ , which is run by FosterClub. There’s also a message board on the same site for foster parents.