Social Media and 21st-Century Child and Youth Care Practice

Tipenga Aragon, Sadia Ali, Tahany Dassouki, Simonne Massner, Dominique Mendiola, Jennifer Po, Kevin Sun, Gerard Bellefeuille


The exponential growth of online information and communication technologies such as texting and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have opened up new possibilities for child and youth care (CYC) practitioners to engage with children, youth, and families. Yet very little is known about the therapeutic use of these technologies as a direct CYC practice method. Hence, this qualitative, course-based research project aimed to explore the use of social media as a therapeutic practice by CYC students at MacEwan University. The Instagram social networking site was used to collect data. A thematic analysis identified four overarching themes: (a) a relationship, engagement, and communication building tool, (b) a source of support and information, (c) a creative space for self-expression, and (d) a safe place. The results of this course-based study indicate that CYC students use social media responsibly in their work with children, youth, and families. The use of social media appears to have a positive impact and beneficial use in CYC as long as it is utilized and maintained in a professional manner. More research into social media is, however, required to help CYC practitioners keep pace with information and communication technologies and become well-informed about their use and misuse.

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