ArticlePDF Available


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are electronic tools used to convey, manipulate and store information. The exponential growth of Internet access and ICTs greatly influenced social, political, and economic processes in the United States, and worldwide. Regardless of the level of practice, ICTs will continue influencing the careers of social workers and the clients they serve. ICTs have received some attention in the social work literature and curriculum, but we argue that this level of attention is not adequate given their ubiquity, growth and influence, specifically as it relates to upholding social work ethics. Significant attention is needed to help ensure social workers are responsive to the technological changes in the health care system, including the health care infrastructure and use of technology among clients. Social workers also need ICT competencies in order to effectively lead different types of social change initiatives or collaborate with professionals of other disciplines who are using ICTs as part of existing strategies. This paper also identifies potential pitfalls and challenges with respect to the adoption of ICTs, with recommendations for advancing their use in practice, education, and research.
Brian E. Perron, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan; Harry O.
Taylor, BA, is a Master's Degree Candidate of Public Health and Social Work at the University of Michigan; Joseph E.
Glass, MSW, is a doctoral student at Washington University; and Jon Margerum-Leys, Ph.D., is an associate professor of
Educational Technology at Eastern Michigan University.
Copyright © 2010 Advances in Social Work Vol. 11 No. 1 (Spring 2010), 67-81
Information and Communication Technologies in Social Work
Brian E. Perron
Harry O. Taylor
Joseph E. Glass
Jon Margerum-Leys
Abstract: Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are electronic tools used
to convey, manipulate and store information. The exponential growth of Internet access
and ICTs greatly influenced social, political, and economic processes in the United
States, and worldwide. Regardless of the level of practice, ICTs will continue influencing
the careers of social workers and the clients they serve. ICTs have received some
attention in the social work literature and curriculum, but we argue that this level of
attention is not adequate given their ubiquity, growth and influence, specifically as it
relates to upholding social work ethics. Significant attention is needed to help ensure
social workers are responsive to the technological changes in the health care system,
including the health care infrastructure and use of technology among clients. Social
workers also need ICT competencies in order to effectively lead different types of social
change initiatives or collaborate with professionals of other disciplines who are using
ICTs as part of existing strategies. This paper also identifies potential pitfalls and
challenges with respect to the adoption of ICTs, with recommendations for advancing
their use in practice, education, and research.
Key Words: Information and communication technology, ethics, innovation, continuing
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are broadly defined as
technologies used to convey, manipulate and store data by electronic means (Open
University, nd). This can include e-mail, SMS text messaging, video chat (e.g., Skype),
and online social media (e.g., Facebook). It also includes all the different computing
devices (e.g., laptop computers and smart phones) that carry out a wide range of
communication and information functions. ICTs are pervasive in developed countries and
considered integral in the efforts to build social, political and economic participation in
developing countries. For example, the United Nations (2006) recognizes that ICTs are
necessary for helping the world achieve eight time-specific goals for reducing poverty
and other social and economic problems. The World Health Organization also sees ICTs
as contributing to health improvement in developing countries in three ways: 1) as a way
for doctors in developing countries to be trained in advances in practice; 2) as a delivery
mechanism to poor and remote areas; and 3) to increase transparency and efficiency of
governance, which is critical for the delivery of publicly provided health services
(Chandrasekhar & Ghosh, 2001).
With the growth of the Internet, a wide range of ICTs have transformed social
relationships, education, and the dissemination of information. It is argued that online
relationships can have properties of intimacy, richness, and liberation that rival or exceed
offline relationships, as online relationships tend to be based more on mutual interest
rather than physical proximity (Bargh, McKenna, & Fitzsimons, 2002). In the popular
book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman (2005) argues that collaborative technologies
– i.e., interactions between people supported by ICTs – have expanded the possibilities
for forming new businesses and distributing valued goods and services for anyone.
Educational theorist and technologist Curtis Bonk recently published a highly insightful
and influential book called The World is Open (Bonk, 2009). Bonk (2009) argues that,
with the development of ICTs, even the most remote areas of the world have
opportunities to gain access to the highest quality learning resources. Proceedings from
the 2004 International Workshop on Improving E-Learning Policies and Programs also
showed that ICTs are helping transform governments through workforce transformation,
citizen education, and service optimization (Asian Development Bank Institute, 2004).
Innumerable accounts and data sources demonstrate that ICTs have reduced boundaries
and increased access to information and education (see Bonk, 2009; Friedman, 2005),
which has led the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cutural Organization
(UNESCO) to focus on assisting Member States in developing robust policies in ICTs
and higher education (UNESCO, nd).
Although ICTs and the growth of the Internet are not without problems, a reality
remains that both will continue to shape the global community. Other disciplines have
recognized the importance of ICT and consider it to be a key part of professional
development. For example, the National Business Education Association (NBEA) states:
"mastery of technology tools is a requirement rather than an option for enhancing
academic, business, and personal performance" (NBEA, 2007, p. 88). Resources are
available that speak to the role of technology in the social work curriculum (e.g., Coe
Regan & Freddolino, 2008; Faux & Black-Hughes, 2000; Giffords, 1998; Marson, 1997;
Sapey, 1997) and in research and practice (e.g., Journal of Technology in Human
Services). The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Association of
Social Work Boards published a set of ten standards regarding technology and social
work practice, which serves as a guide for the social work profession to incorporate
technology into its various missions (NASW, 2005).
Despite this interest in technology, the attention that the field of social work has
given to ICTs in research, education, and practice does not match the efforts of other
national and international organizations that view ICTs as critical to improving the lives
of disadvantaged and disenfranchised persons, and necessary for all forms of civil
engagement. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) calls for the integration of
computer technology into social work education, but there are no explicit standards for
integration or student learning (CSWE, 2008; see also Beaulaurier & Radisch, 2005).
Asking other social workers, social work students, and social work educators can easily
reveal that many are unaware of the NASW technology standards. A review of syllabi of
social work courses will also show that ICTs, beyond e-mail communication, are
generally not present in the educational environment. Consequently, social work students
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 69
are not being adequately prepared in the use of ICTs, which are integral in the workforce
today and will become even more important over time (Parrot & Madoc-Jones, 2008).
In this paper, we argue that ICTs are of critical importance to advancing the field of
social work. Specifically, they provide effecient and effective ways for organizing people
and ideas, offers greater access to knowledge and education, and increases the efficiency
and collaboration of our work. This paper takes the position that many aspects of the
NASW Code of Ethics (1999) can be advanced through careful and thoughtful
application of ICTs. Thus, competencies with ICTs and ICT literacy should be required
learning outcomes in social work education and continuing education. This includes
having the knowledge and skills to understand and use ICTs to acheive a specific purpose
(i.e., competencies), in addition to knowing the major concepts and language associated
with ICT (i.e., literacy). Within this framework, this paper identifies specific aspects of
the Code of Ethics (1999), showing how ICTs play a critical role in achieving the desired
values and principles. Recommendations on how ICTs can be more strategically
incorporated in the classroom, along with potential pitfalls, are discussed.
ICTs in Society
Computer technology is becoming more efficient, productive, and cheaper. Advances
in technology are producing more powerful computing devices to create a dynamic
virtual network that allows people all over the world to communicate and share
information with each other. The growth and importance of the technology and the virtual
network are underscored by two important laws. First is Moore's Law, which states that
“integrated circuit technology advancements would enable the semiconductor industry to
double the number of components on every chip 18 to 24 months” (Coyle, 2009, p. 559).
Essentially, this means that the speed and productivity of a computer increases two-fold
every 1.5 to 2 years. While such growth may not be sustained indefinitely, the
exponential growth of technology realized thus far has reshaped our society and will
continue to be a dynamic force in future generations. It is important that social workers
understand the role that technology plays in shaping the lives of clients and the services
that are delivered. The second law, Metcalfe’s Law, states “the value of a network
increases in proportion to the square of the number of people connected to the network”
(Coyle, 2009, p. 559). These rapidly developing technologies, and the individuals that
utilize them, are producing virtual networks of greater size and value.
At the time Granovetter published his classic study on networks and employment
(Granovetter, 1973), ICTs played almost no role in developing and maintaining network
relationships. Today, Internet sites such as LinkedIn ( produce vast
social networks that provide opportunities for professionals and employers to advertise
and communicate. To effectively use social networks, whether for obtaining employment,
securing resources, or obtaining information, social workers need to understand the
capabilities of these networks, and how they can be effectively understood, managed, and
utilized within a digital environment.
ICTs in Higher Education
Applications of ICTs for instituations of higher education have grown tremendously
and will continue to shape the delivery of social work education. This is already realized
through emerging distance education courses and other strategies for using technology in
the social work classroom (e.g., Stocks & Freddolino, 1999; Wernet, Olliges, & Delicath,
2000). Courses offered online greatly assist students who are long distance commuters or
students with disabilities. In both distance and local learning, many educators utilize
course management systems (e.g., Sakai, Moodle, and Blackboard) for managing
virtually every aspect of a course. These course management systems often provide
students with tools to assist each other in learning the course material (e.g., synchronous
and asynchronous communication). Largely because of these opportunities, some have
even predicted that ICTs may eventually eclipse the traditional college classroom (see
Bonk, 2009).
Within colleges and universities, ICTs serve both administrative and academic
functions. Students are able to accomplish a variety of tasks using computer networks
that save the institution time and money, such as facilitating billing and payments to the
school, requesting and obtaining financial aid and/or scholarships, class scheduling,
requesting official transcripts, selecting housing locations, etc. With regard to social work
research, ICTs are part of an infrastructure for newer research methodologies (e.g.
Geographic Information Systems, computer simulations, network modeling), making it
crucial for universities to harness technology to advance their research missions (Videka,
Blackburn, & Moran, 2008). ICTs have the potential to help facilitate a more productive
and effective learning environment for both social work students and professors.
Continued Growth of ICTs
Technology innovations are encouraging a trend towards the digitization of the
world's information and knowledge, essentially creating stores of the accumulated human
experience (Coyle, 2009). Computer technology has become integrated into the modern
global society, serving a wide range of functions and purposes. With such growth are
extensive arguments that Internet access is a human right because it is necessary to fully
participate in today's society.1 The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) announced plans, in conjunction with the US Department of Agriculture and Rural
Development, to create a national broadband internet policy to help ensure all United
States citizens have equal access to high speed internet (Federal Communication
Commission, 2009). This policy, made possible through the Recovery and Reinvestiment
Act of 2009, is specifically tailored for citizens who live in rural or underserved areas
(Federal Communucations Commission, 2009).
As the use of ICTs continues to grow, it is important to realize the importance of
convergence, and how convergence shapes the transmission of information and service
delivery. This concept refers to “the coming together of information technologies
1 During the preparation of this manuscript, a search on Google using the following expression
resulted in 35,100 hits: "internet access" and "human rights".
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 71
(computer, consumer electronics, telecommunications) and gadgets (PC, TV, telephone),
leading to a culmination of the digital revolution in which all types of information (voice,
video, data) will travel on the same network” (Coyle, 2009, p. 550). The creation and
utilization of smart phones (e.g., BlackBerry, iPhone) is a key example of convergence,
where one device has multiple functions and different applications, bringing technologies
such as social networking, email, videorecording, and traditional cellular telephone
service into one's pocket.
Individuals of all age ranges are heavily involved in maintaining social connections
through internet networks. For example, social networking websites, such as Facebook
and MySpace, are used widely and boast highly active visitor populations. Facebook and
MySpace each reached over 100 million active visitors by April of 2008 (Schonfield,
2008). The Internet and other telecommunication networks have an enormous impact on
defining the future of human interaction, and to date, these changes have largely been
positive across social contexts (Bargh, 2004). The field of social work needs to
understand how these changes are influencing and will continue to influence all aspects
of social work. As it relates to social work, it is critically important that such a research
agenda builds an understanding of both the positive and negative impacts of human
The growth of the Internet and use of ICTs has changed how we interact with
each other and how we work (Bargh & McKenna, 2004). As the millennium generation
(also known as generation Y) is raised in an environment with highly complex networks
that make use of technology, their importance will continue to grow (Weller, 2005). The
field of social work faces a critical need to incorporate ICTs into training social workers,
delivering social work services, and the conduct of social work research. It is clear that
ICTs, when thoughtfully and effectively used, can improve the various practice methods
of social work (i.e., delivery of services, education, and research). Although the potential
uses of ICTs have been well defined, to date there has been little discussion of the impact
of ICTs on the principles of social work ethics. Provided below are specific examples of
how ICTs appear necessary for ensuring the delivery of ethical social work practice. We
highlight relevant aspects of the NASW Code of Ethics (1999) and provide specific
Ethical Principle: Social workers recognize the central importance of human
relationships. ICTs play a major role in human relationships, which has implications for
social work practice. More specifically, increasing numbers of people are engaged in
relationships that are mediated by some form of ICT, including electronic messages (e-
mail), SMS text message, social networking (e.g., Facebook), instant messaging service,
or video chat (e.g., Skype). Social workers need to have an understanding of the roles that
such ICTs may play in the lives of their clients. This may involve understanding how
communication processes are different compared to face-to-face interactions; such as the
use of emoticons – that is, characters and symbols use to express non-verbals.
Social workers also need to understand that many relationships develop and may
occur exclusively online. For example, the Internet allows groups to convene around a
common purpose, including the provision of self-help, social support, and
psychoeducation. Depending on their format, such groups may be referred to as
electronic groups, listservs, forums, and mail groups. The proliferation of these groups
can be attributed to anonymity and their ease of access, particularly for persons with
mobility problems, rare disorders, and those without access to face-to-face groups or
professional services (Perron & Powell, 2008). A number of studies have tracked the
patterns of communication within online groups, and have found that many of the
processes used are the same as those used in face-to-face self-help groups (Finn, 1999;
Perron, 2002; Salem, Bogat, & Reid, 1997). Given the prevalance of online relationships,
social workers and other human service professionals must be aware of the positive (e.g.,
social support, see Perron, 2002), and negative effects (e.g., cyber-bullying, see Hinduja
& Patchin, 2008) they have on their individual clients, with a clear understanding of how
relationships are mediated by ICTs. Currently, the social work curricula emphasize the
importance and development of in-person relationships, while little attention is given to
understanding the role of online relationships and computer-mediated relationships.
Ethical standard 1.07: (c) Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients'
written and electronic records and other sensitive information. (l) Social workers should
take reasonable steps to ensure that clients' records are stored in a secure location and
that clients' records are not available to others who are not authorized to have access.
Increasing amounts of information are being saved and shared electronically
(Rindfleisch, 1997). While training social workers in in all aspects of information
security would be impractical, it is necessary that they have requisite knowledge for
raising fundamental questions about electronic security, and to know when and where to
seek additional information. This is particularly true in agencies that lack funding and
resources to support information technology specialists. Without this basic knowledge,
social workers can compromise the confidentiality of their client records or other
important organizational resources, resulting in significant legal consequences and ethical
Ethical standard 1.15: Social workers should make reasonable efforts to ensure
continuity of services in the event that services are interrupted by factors such as
unavailability, relocation, illness, disability, or death. Natural disasters and personal
factors can easily disrupt the continuity of social work services, and clients living in
highly rural areas experience lack of services. ICTs provide options to help maintain or
re-establish services during times of personal or community crises, which is described in
numerous disaster management reports (e.g., Government of India, National Disaster
Management Division, nd; United Nations, 2006; Wattegama, 2007). For example, if a
service can be delivered electronically (e.g., psychotherapy) the only service barriers are
ensuring that the client and service provider have computers or a mobile device with an
Internet connection. Furthermore, the utility of virtual services such as remote
psychotherapy (or more generally, "tele-mental health") is not limited to times of disaster.
In fact, tele-mental health is used nationally for routine care in the Veterans Health
Administration, in order to provide services to veterans in underserved areas (Department
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 73
of Veterans Affairs, 2008.) To further illustrate the opportunity to deliver clinical services
over ICTs, recent surveys estimate that about 60% of Americans used the internet to
access health information in 2008 (Fox, 2009), and about half of all healthcare consumers
endorsed that they would be likely to seek healthcare through online consultations if
these services were made available (PriceWaterHouseCoopers Health Research Institute,
Ethical standard 2.05: Social workers should seek the advice and counsel of
colleagues whenever such consultation is in the best interests of clients. ICTs offer
greater flexibility and support for seeking professional consultations, and numerous states
permit online supervision. The sheer size of the online world suggests that no matter how
specialized one's area of focus, like-minded colleagues can be located, and communities
of practice may be established. For example, hoarding behavior is a fairly rare event in
mental health services, particularly in comparison to other expressions of
psychopathology (Steketee & Frost, 2003). Thus, issues on treating this problem and
working with family members are rarely covered in the classroom. In the absence of
ICTs, few training or consultation opportunities exist, but a simple search of hoarding as
a mental disorder can reveal a wide range of potentially useful resources (including, but
not limited to): contact information for experts and directories on hoarding behavior;
video lectures on treatment; extensive collection of YouTube videos on providing
information and personal accounts; and online support groups. Similar searches of other
highly specialized areas such as disaster planning in social work, forensic interviewing of
abused children, and inhalant abuse have also revealed a wide range of resources that are
unlikely to be available to social workers in their local area.
Ethical standard 3.07(a): Social work administrators should advocate within and
outside their agencies for adequate resources to meet clients' needs. Creative uses of the
Internet are emerging to support advocacy. For example, the online service GiveAnon
( uses the powers of ICT to allow donors to connect with
recipients, contributing financially, directly, and anonymously. ICT's ability to mask the
identity of an online person or entity is creatively used in this case to help donors to
provide assistance without revealing their own identity. Thus, they can serve as a
powerful organizing and advocacy tool. Social workers are positioned to use this tool,
and many others like it, to address various needs and solve problems. Further integration
of technology in the curriculum on organizing and advocacy with ICTs can have
potentially significant payoffs. A recent article in a leading health services journal,
Health Affairs, Hawn (2009) describes how Twitter, Facebook, and other social media
are reshaping health care. At the time this manuscript was written, it was reported that
Chicago's Department of Human Services began using a system that enabled human
service providers, agency coalitions and the community to manage client and resource
data in real-time (Bowman Systems, 2008). Having real-time knowledge of available
resources is critical for making effective and efficient referrals, particularly for crisis
issues, such as psychiatric and substance use conditions, and housing.
Ensuring adequate resources to meet clients' needs must be considered within the
overall budget of an organization. ICTs are a necessary part of most social work service
agencies. Many agencies have large expenses related to their ICT needs, especially
software upgrades. However, organizations can take advantage of the benefits of open
source software to decrease costs related to information technology. Open source
software "is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed
peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality,
higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in
permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified
or unmodified forms" (Open Source Initiative, nd; see also Lakhani & von Hippel, 2003).
From a user's standpoint, this software is freely available and can be modified to meet a
given need. Many agencies use Microsoft Office but cannot afford expensive software or
hardware upgrades that are required over time. As an alternative, the same agency could
use an open source software package (freely available), such as OpenOffice
(, which is compatible with the Microsoft Office suite.
Cloud computing alternatives are another option – that is, software services that are
provided over the Internet. The premise of cloud computing is that full software packages
(e.g. Office suites, database applications) are provided over the internet, eliminating the
need for expensive equipment to be purchased and maintained locally (e.g., intranet
servers; Hayes, 2008). Google, for example, provides an entire set of office-related
applications called Google Docs ( that can do word processing,
spread sheets, and presentations. These applications do not ever need to be installed on a
local computer or upgraded by the user. These applications are compatible with other
proprietary software, most notably Microsoft Office. Although not typical, this major
Cloud computing service is freely available to anybody with a Gmail email account (also
free), and the programs and files can be accessed from any computer with an Internet
connection. Social workers should have knowledge of such resources and understand
how they may be a reasonable alternative to address existing agency needs, in addition to
understanding the legal issues of remote data storage and security.
Ethical standard 3.08. Social work administrators and supervisors should take
reasonable steps to provide or arrange for continuing education and staff development
for all staff for whom they are responsible. Continuing education and staff development
should address current knowledge and emerging developments related to social work
practice and ethics. A growing body of research shows that distance education can be as
effective or more effective than face-to-face education (Bernard et al., 2004). Moreover,
the educational literature is pointing to the changing characteristics of our students. For
example, students of the Net Generation and Millenial Generation, who are the largest
age group of consumers of social work education today, have different learning
expectations and learning styles that will require social work faculty to change how they
teach (see Diaz et al., 2009). Distance education is also increasingly relying on and
innovating with ICTs, to facilitate student-to-teacher and student-to-student interactions,
and collaborations. The field of social work could enhance its overall educational
infrastructure through the effective use of ICTs. This would allow access to opportunities
that would not be available or affordable using traditional face-to-face formats. The use
of ICTs undoubtedly gives greater access to higher quality educational opportunities
(Asian Development Bank, 2004; Bonk, 2009).
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 75
Ethical standard 4.01. Social workers should strive to become and remain proficient
in professional practice and the performance of professional functions. Social workers
should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social
work. Social workers should routinely review the professional literature and participate
in continuing education relevant to social work practice and social work ethics. Social
workers have a daunting task of remaining current with the research in their area of
practice. The reality is that the majority of research findings are disseminated and
accessed electronically via the Internet. Many of the barriers that social workers face in
accessing and even understanding the research may be overcome, in part, through the
efficient and effective use of ICTs. For example, while many journals require expensive
subscriptions, a growing body of journals are available online in an open access format.
This is an important and complex philosophy; the immediate relevance is that open
access gives social workers free and unlimited access to scientific articles (e.g., which have been traditionally been available on a subscription
basis (see Suber, 2003). Social workers have access to a wide range of electronic video
and audio recording, also known as videocasts and podcasts, that discuss recent research
developments. For example, social workers interested in psychiatric issues can easily find
collections of grand rounds lectures archived by departments of psychiatry at medical
schools throughout the United States. Many journals and other science-related
newsrooms offer scientific findings in the form of emailed newsletters and electronic
news feeds. Social workers can identify and subscribe to specific news feeds using real
simple syndication (i.e., RSS feeders) that link to news articles in their area of practice.
These resources, and many others, are freely available. However, social workers must
have competencies with ICTs in order to identify and use quality resources.
Developing ICT Competencies and Literacy
Given the growth and impact of ICTs in society and their implications for social
work ethics, it is critical that social workers have both competency and literacy with
ICTs. While competency refers to being able to use a given technology, literacy refers to
the ability to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information (Chinien &
Boutin, 2003). It is beyond the scope of this paper to provide a coherent and
comprehensive strategy for developing social worker competencies and literacies with
ICTs. However, the literature on ICTs and educational innovations in higher education
provide extensive resources that are generalizable to the field of social work. Social work
educators will need to be proficient with ICTs in order to design assignments, activities,
and projects that reflect the real-world use of ICTs. Beyond higher education, continuing
education opportunities that respond to recent technology advances are also necessary in
order to help social workers stay current with the most relevant and useful technologies.
For example, by having basic competencies and literacies, social workers and social work
students who want further introduction to ICTs can review the complete curriculum
materials for a course entitled ICTs in Everyday Life through the Open University
(, in addition to having access to materials for other courses. This
is part of the open education movement that views education as a public good, and
Internet technology provides the opportunity to share, use, and resuse knowledge
(Creative Commons, nd). In absence of ICT competency and literacy, social workers will
miss important educational opportunities for themselves and their clients.
Challenges and Pitfalls of ICTs
Despite the continued growth and expansion of technologies, many disenfranchised
and disadvantaged persons still do not have access to ICTs or the Internet. While
initiatives in the United States, and other respective countries around the world, are
attempting to provide access to everybody, significant disparities within and across
countries exist, particularly in African regions that have low Internet market penetration
(Alden, 2004). By developing a stronger focus and infrastructure around ICTs in social
work education, social workers will be better prepared to participate in a range of policy
initiatives to support activities that seek to address these disparities in social, economic
and political participation.
In the training of social workers in ICTs, it is also important to recognize that not all
technologies have resulted in added value to education. For example, Kirkup and
Kirkwood (2005) argue that ICTs have failed to produce the radical changes in learning
and teaching that many anticipated. This underscores the importance of ensuring ICT
literacy among social workers – that is, having the ability to access and evaluate
information using ICTs (Chinien & Boutin, 2003). This will help social workers select
the optimal tools from a wide range of options.
In the provision of clinical services, social workers must be aware that clinical needs
can be (and currently are being) met through technologies such as telehealth and e-mail
consultations (McCarty & Clancy, 2002). Recent surveys also suggest that clients
welcome these new treatment options (Fox, 2009). Further research is still needed to
better understand the effectiveness of Internet-mediated services. For example, the
effectiveness of online psychotherapy shows promise but the existing research to date
remains inconclusive (Bee et al., 2008; Mohr, Vella, Hart, Heckman, & Simon, 2008).
The social worker using such technologies must consider how legal, ethical, and social
principles apply, in addition to the advantages and disadvantages of online health services
(see Car & Sheikh, 2004). Currently, the social work curriculum focuses almost
exclusively on relationships in the absence of ICT mediated exchanges, but the growth of
technology within the health care system makes these matters a priority in social work
education. If such issues aren't addressed, the field of social work is at risk of not
remaining competitive in the provision of health and psychosocial services. Moreover,
without proper training, social workers in this arena of practice are at risk of delivering
poor quality services or facing legal or ethical issues.
Social work researchers and practitioners should work in earnest to document both
the successful and unsuccessful initiatives involving ICTs in the field. Case examples can
provide the basis for understanding how ICTs can be integrated to enhance various
aspects of the process. Unfortunately, the current method of disseminating new
information and practice is primarily through professional journals, where the general
timeline of an article (the time it takes to have a manuscript submitted, reviewed, and
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 77
subsequently published) will likely not be quick enough to keep up with the advances in
technology. It behooves the field of social work to explore options to connect with other
researchers and practitioners to share knowledge, particularly with social media.
The field of social work education, research, and practice is surrounded by rapid
developments in ICTs. In order to ensure that social work practice upholds the standards
and values of social work ethics, it is necessary that social workers are competent and
literate in ICTs. This will position social workers at all levels of practice to help advance
the lives of disenfranchised and disadvantaged persons through greater access to
education, knowledge and other resources. While numerous ICTs have failed to realize
their expected potential, the ongoing rapid growth of ICTs has created a context in which
social workers cannot resist technology, but must understand the role it plays in everyday
Alden, C. (2004). For most Africans, Internet access is little more than a pipe dream.
Online Journalism Review. Retrieved online August 20, 2009 from
Asian Development Bank Institute. (2004). Proceedings of the International workshop on
improving E-learning policies and programs. August 9-13, Manila.
Bargh, J.A., & McKenna, K. (2004). The internet and social life. Annual Review of
Psychology, 55, 573-590.
Bargh, J. A., McKenna, K., & Fitzsimons, G. M. (2002). Can you see the real me?
Activation and expression of the “true self” on the internet. Journal of Social Issues,
58(1), 33-48.
Beaulaurier, R. L., & Radisch, M. A. (2005). Responding to CSWE guidelines: A
literature review and four approaches to computerization. Journal of Teaching in
Social Work, 25(1&2), 129-150.
Bee, P. E., Bower, P., Lovell, K., Gilbody, S., Richards, D., Gask, L., & Roach, P.
(2008). Psychotherapy mediated by remote communication technology: A meta-
analytic review. BMC Psychiatry, 8(60).
Bernard, R. M., Abrami, P. C., Lou, Y., Borokhovski, E., Wade, A., Wozney, L., Wallet,
P. A., Fiset, M., & Huang, B. (2004). How does distance education compare with
classroom instruction? A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Review of
Educational Research, 74(3), 379-439.
Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bowman Systems. (2008). Chicago Department of Human Services Selects ServicePoint!
Retrieved online August 24, 2009 from:
Car, J., & Sheikh, A. (2004). Email consultations in health care: 2--acceptability and safe
application. British Medical Journal, 329(7463), 439-442.
Chandrasekhar, C. P., & Ghosh, J. (2001). Information and communication technologies
and health in low income countries: The potential and the constraints. Bulletin of the
World Health Organization, 79(9), Geneva. Retrieved online August 24, 2009 from:
Chinien, C., & Boutin, F. (2003). Bridging the cognitive divide in ICT-mediated learning.
Proceedings of the 3rd IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning
Technologies. Retrieved online August 20, 2009 from
Coe Regan, J. R., & Freddolino, P. (Eds.). (2008). Integrating technology in the social
work curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education Press.
Council on Social Work Education. (2008). Educational Policy and Accreditation
Standards. Retrieved online August 25, 2009 from:
Coyle, D. M. (2009). Computers are your future (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
Creative Commons. (nd). [web page] Retrieved online August 24, 2009 rom:
Department of Veterans Affairs. (2008). Uniform mental health services in VA medical
centers and clinics. VHA Handbook 1160.1. Retrieved online August 20, 2009 from:
Diaz, V., Garrett, P. B., Kinely, E. R., Moore, J. F., Schwartz, C. M., & Kohrman, P.
(2009). Faculty development for the 21st century. EDUCAUSE Review, 44(3), 46-55.
Faux, T. L., & Black-Hughes, C. (2000). A comparison of using the Internet versus
lectures to teach social work history. Research on Social Work Practice, 10(4), 454-
Federal Communications Commission. (2009). FCC Launches development of national
broadband plan: Seeks public input on plan to ensure every American has access to
broadband capability. Federal Communications Commission News. Retrieved online
August 25, 2009 from:
Finn, J. (1999). An exploration of helping processes in an online self-help group focusing
on issues of disability. Health and Social Work, 24(3), 220-231.
Fox, S. (2009). The social life of health information. Pew Internet & American Life
Project, June 2009. Retrieved online August 24, 2009 from
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 79
Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat. New York: Picador.
Giffords, E. D. (1998). Social work on the internet: An introduction. Social Work, 43(3),
Government of India, National Disaster Management Division. (nd). ICT for Disaster
Risk Reduction: The Indian Experience. Retrieved online August 20, 2009 from:
Granovetter, M. S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology,
78(6), 1360-1380.
Hawn, C. (2009). Take two aspirin and tweet me in the morning: How Twitter, Facebook,
and other social media are reshaping health care. Health Affairs, 28(2), 361-368.
Hayes, B. (2008). Cloud computing. Communications of the ACM, 51(7), 9-11.
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2008). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and
responding to cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Kirkup, G., & Kirkwood, A. (2005). Information and communications technologies (ICT)
in higher education teaching--A tale of gradualism rather than revolution. Learning
and Media Technology, 30(2), 185-199.
Lakhani, K. R., & von Hippel, E. (2003). How open source software works: “Free” user-
to-user assistance. Research Policy, 32(6), 923-943.
Marson, S. M. (1997). A selective history of Internet technology and social work.
Computers in Human Services, 14(2), 35-49.
McCarty, D., & Clancy, C. (2002). Telehealth: Implications for social work. Social Work,
47(2), 153-161.
Mohr, D. C., Vella, L., Hart, S., Heckman, T., & Simon, G. (2008). The effect of
telephone-administered psychotherapy on symptoms of depression and attrition: A
meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 15(3), 243-253.
National Association of Social Workers. (approved 1996, revised 1999). Code of ethics
of the National Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
National Association of Social Workers. (2005). NASW and ASWB standards for
technology and social work practice. Washington, DC: NASW Press. Retrieved
online August 26, 2009 from:
National Business Education Association. (2007). National standards for business
education. Reston, VA: Author.
Open University. (nd). ICTs in everyday life. Retrieved online August 26, 2009 from:
Parrott, L., & Madoc-Jones, I. (2008). Reclaiming information and communications
technology for empowering social work practice. Journal of Social Work, 8(2), 181-
Perron, B. (2002). Online support for caregivers with a mental illness. Psychiatric
Rehabilitation Journal, 26(1), 70-77.
Perron, B., & Powell, T. J. (2008). Online groups and social work practice. In A.
Gitterman & R. Salmon (Eds.), The encyclopedia of social work with groups (pp.
311-313). Binghamtom, NY: Haworth.
PriceWaterHouseCoopers Health Research Institute. (2009). Jammed access: Widening
the front door to healthcare. Retrieved online August 24, 2009 from:
Rindfleisch, T. C. (1997). Privacy, information technology, and healthcare.
Communications of the ACM, 40(8), 92-100.
Salem, D. A., Bogat, A. G., & Reid, C. (1997). Mutual help goes on-line. Journal of
Community Psychology, 25(2), 189-207.
Sapey, B. (1997). Social work tomorrow: Towards a critical understanding of technology
in social work. British Journal of Social Work, 27(6), 803-814.
Schonfield, E. (2008). Facebook blows past MySpace in global visitors for May.
Retrieved online August 25, 2009 from:
visitors-for may/
Steketee, G., & Frost, R. (2003). Compulsive hoarding: Current status of the research.
Clinical Psychology Review, 23(7), 905-927.
Stocks, J. T., & Freddolino, P. P. (1999). Evaluation of a world wide web-based graduate
social work research methods course. Computers in Human Services, 15(2), 51-69.
Suber, P. (2003). Removing the barriers to research: An introduction to open access for
librarians. College & Research Library News, 64, 92-94.
UNESCO. (nd). Higher education and ICTs. Retrieved online August 26, 2009 from:
United Nations. (2006). Information and communication technology vital to development
– UN Assembly chief. Retrieved online on August 26, 2009 from:
Videka, L., Blackburn, J. A., & Moran, J. R. (2008). Building research infrastructure in
schools of social work: A university perspective. Social Work Research, 32(4), 294-
ADVANCES IN SOCIAL WORK, Spring 2010, 11(1) 81
Wattegama, C. (2007). ICT for Disaster Management. United Nations Development
Programme – Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (UNDP-APDIP)
and Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication
Technology for Development (APCICT). Retrieved August 20, 2009 from:
Weller, A. (2005). Information-seeking behavior in generation Y students: Motivation,
critical thinking, and learning theory. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31I(1),
Wernet, S. P., Olliges, R. H., & Delicath, T. A. (2000). Postcourse evaluations of WebCT
(Web Course Tools) classes by social work students. Research on Social Work
Practice, 10(4), 487-504.
Author’s note:
Address correspondence to: Brian E. Perron, Ph.D., School of Social Work, University of
Michigan, 1080 S. University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Email:
... Programs and applications have made it easier for teachers and students to complete many educational tasks and assignments without difficulty or stress, providing them with excellent opportunities for excitement and attraction. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are electronic tools used to transmit, process, and store information [4]. Not long ago, academic research, including social work research, turned its interest to discuss the relationship between new technologies and their use in the education of social work students. ...
... Although ICTs and the growth of the Internet are not without problems, the fact remains that both will continue to shape the global community. Other disciplines have recognized the importance of ICT and consider it a key part of professional development [4]. ...
Full-text available
The research problem is to identify the impact of using information and communication technology (ICT) on developing the creative abilities of social work students. The research employed a descriptive-analytical approach in which a sample of social work students was surveyed. Field data was collected using a scale developed by the researchers to measure the impact of students' use of ICT on developing their creative abilities. After establishing the validity and reliability of the scale, data collection began in December 2022 when an electronic link was sent to all social work students via the official university mail. After processing the data using SPSS, the results were extracted, and a final research report was written. The results confirmed the students' high readiness to use ICT, while their reliance on ICT improved their academic and personal performance. In addition, the research results confirmed that students' use of ICT effectively influenced the development of their creative abilities. As a result, the study recommends that universities should focus on adequately training students and faculty members in the use of various types of ICT and encourage them to use them.
... Perron and his co-authors point out, the use of ICT has not been sufficiently emphasized in the training and practice of social workers, which poses the danger that they will not be competitive in the provision of health and psychosocial services (Perron et al., 2010). Therefore, it is necessary to prepare students and practitioners for the ethical and professional use of ICT, for communication in the online space, and for the conscious use of social media. ...
Full-text available
In the study, based on a literature review, the author explains the concept of telemental health and how it can contribute to reducing the loneliness and isolation of the elderly. It covers the experiences of using ICT in the care of the elderly in Hungary, and also briefly presents how the use of digital technology has contributed to the social and mental health care of the elderly during the coronavirus epidemic, and what changes have taken place. The study concludes with recommendations for the use of ICT by social workers and the development of telemental health services for the elderly.
... The fast pace of advancing digital technology made some social workers less confident in adapting to such an accelerated digital environment (Parton, 2008). Nonetheless, the picture of challenges and uncertainties is beyond the social workers' and clients' willingness or lack of acceptance of using technology, as indicated by previous studies (see Bullock & Colvin, 2015;Dodsworth et al., 2013;López Peláez & Marcuello-Servós, 2018;Perron et al., 2010). Enhancing social workers' knowledge and understanding of technology-mediated practice is necessary to ensure and improve their confidence in service delivery (Bullock & Colvin, 2015;Craig & Calleja Lorenzo, 2014). ...
Full-text available
Social workers are increasingly using digital technology and online platforms in service delivery, with many services having moved online in 2020 following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. A systematic literature review was conducted to synthesize research on the benefits and uncertainties of technology-mediated social work practice. Relevant keywords were searched in the following databases, Scopus, EbscoHost, SocINDEX, and Google Scholar. A total of 28 articles were included in this review, and their findings were synthesized thematically. Findings The review revealed several benefits of using digital tools and online platforms, including providing services to the larger population and making social work more available and accessible. However, while technology was widely employed in social work practice, there were some uncertainties about the impacts of technology on practice, maintaining professional boundaries, and concerns over privacy and confidentiality. Implication There is a need for further support for social workers to access flexible, efficient, and creative tools to maintain the quality of service delivery. The interdisciplinary collaboration between social work bodies and organizations with technology developers will improve technology-mediated social work practice to be aligned with professional principles, ethics, and values.
... (Raley, 2013, p. 124) This development can also be witnessed in social work practices and processes: from the personal use of digital information technologies (Mishna et al., 2021), to administrative processes (Huuskonen & Vakkari, 2013;Reamer, 2019) and the use of predictive risk modelling and other related applications of algorithm-based computational support systems (Vaithianathan et al., 2013;Waterhouse & McGhee, 2015). Social workers need to be equipped with extensive digital competencies, including data-and digital literacies, to address the challenges these transformations actively and competently (Perron et al., 2010), especially in consideration of future possibilities of (semi-)automated forms of observation and decision-making based on metadata creation (Parton, 2009;Rudin et al., 2019). Important countertrends that have emerged in response to these developments are the rise of demands for more public scrutiny of algorithm-based tools, including access to the actual algorithms themselves, as well as the demand for more data to be made publicly available and easily accessible (Baack, 2015;Spiekermann et al., 2021). ...
This up-to-date reference work explores theories, methods and practices of social work management education in higher education. It includes contributions from more than 30 scholars and researchers in the field of social work management education from more than 10 countries and 4 continents. The work is unique as it overcomes current barriers between the different sub-disciplines of social work didactics and management education, and takes into consideration the development of a discipline-specific Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). The integrated and transdisciplinary approach to social work management education presented in this edited volume is of paramount importance to international scholars, teachers, practitioners, students and all other audiences interested in the field of education. The work provides an overview of the theoretical principles on how social work management can be taught and learned, and analyzes curricula, pedagogical approaches, actors, and socio-economic and institutional contexts of social work management at higher education institutions
Full-text available
The shift to communication technologies during the pandemic has had positive and negative effects on clinical social worker practice. Best practices are identified for clinical social workers to maintain emotional well-being, prevent fatigue, and avoid burnout when using technology. A scoping review from 2000 to 21 of 15 databases focused on communication technologies for mental health care within four areas: (1) behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical impact; (2) individual, clinic, hospital, and system/organizational levels; (3) well-being, burnout, and stress; and (4) clinician technology perceptions. Out of 4795 potential literature references, full text review of 201 papers revealed 37 were related to technology impact on engagement, therapeutic alliance, fatigue and well-being. Studies assessed behavioral (67.5%), emotional (43.2%), cognitive (57.8%), and physical (10.8%) impact at the individual (78.4%), clinic (54.1%), hospital (37.8%) and system/organizational (45.9%) levels. Participants were clinicians, social workers, psychologists, and other providers. Clinicians can build a therapeutic alliance via video, but this requires additional skill, effort, and monitoring. Use of video and electronic health records were associated with clinician physical and emotional problems due to barriers, effort, cognitive demands, and additional workflow steps. Studies also found high user ratings on data quality, accuracy, and processing, but low satisfaction with clerical tasks, effort required and interruptions. Studies have overlooked the impact of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion related to technology, fatigue and well-being, for the populations served and the clinicians providing care. Clinical social workers and health care systems must evaluate the impact of technology in order to support well-being and prevent workload burden, fatigue, and burnout. Multi-level evaluation and clinical, human factor, training/professional development and administrative best practices are suggested.
Las experiencias suscitadas por la pandemia del covid-19 le dieron un nuevo aire al papel de las tecnologías digitales en la configuración de la sociedad contemporánea como problema de estudio en las ciencias sociales. Estas experiencias permitieron retomar la discusión sobre el vínculo entre tecnologías digitales y sociedad y profundizarla en el marco de las complejidades presentadas en el intento de transitar la vida social al mundo digital. Particularmente, disciplinas como el Trabajo Social se han planteado reflexiones sobre su propia pertinencia en el escenario de lo presencial-digital, con lo cual han aportado a la configuración de un giro epistemológico en la disciplina misma. Ciberintervención en Trabajo Social: reflexiones sobre vínculos entre TIC y Trabajo Social aporta, de manera modesta, a la delimitación de las discusiones y problemáticas que, posteriormente, se pueden abordar a profundidad respecto al lugar de esta disciplina social en el contexto de la sociedad digital y, a la vez, al lugar de las tecnologías digitales en la demarcación del Trabajo Social.
This study, designed to surface student conceptions of digital development throughout their professional training, concluded mid-2019. Whilst mentioned in brief in a previous publication, this paper reports the work in full. The learning from it is important to formulating a response to practice changes driven by Covid19. Practice shifts that forced the profession to do social work at a distance, at speed, and largely through a screen. While not to dismiss efforts to adjust to the restrictions put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus, the lack of digital capabilities across the profession meant that the pivot to online practices presented significant and avoidable challenges. Informed by student descriptions of an educational experience devoid of digital development, this paper offers a solution. The ‘Digitalising Social Work Education Framework’ provides a context in which to review the facilitation of digital capabilities development. It is a means to ensuring that curriculum design, content, and delivery equips students to use technologies for their learning and in practice. It avoids reducing digital professionalism to a set of technical skills and promotes the need to engage with the realities of sociotechnical practices, including those that erode people's privacy, rights and freedom from interference.
The use of ICT is a promising approach to social adaptation of people with disabilities. However, its potential is limited both by institutional barriers and by the low level of readiness of patients. Mobile applications combine ease of development, versatility and accessibility, and are thus potentially able to boost the ICT adoption in social work. The article describes the results of a sociological study of people with disabilities, aimed at assessing the possibilities of using applications for social adaptation. The study was carried out by the method of a sociological survey using a combined technique of personal interviews and an online survey among people with different types of health limitations ( N = 197). The results showed that among the respondents there are people with both very low and very high technical, functional and psychological readiness to use mobile applications. Among those who use mobile devices, the majority uses them for the purposes of social adaptation, and positively evaluates the experience of using specialized applications. The results of the survey also help to identify the key problems faced by people with disabilities: financial problems, request for emergency assistance, receiving medical advice, etc. The results of the survey confirm the prospects of using mobile applications for social adaptation and identify the main directions for their development.
Full-text available
Museums are increasingly embracing information and communication technology (ICT) to promote cultural tourism and to keep pace with changes in society. Cultural values, legacies, and customs are transmitted through museums, connecting current generations with their past. ICTs are used in almost all museum operations, both within and outside their walls, and especially for exhibitions and preservation. Prior research indicates that museums utilize a variety of ICTs to further modernize displays and artifacts and improve the visitor experience. Museums also use various digital communication tools to enrich the visitor experience. Many of the functions performed by ICTs used to create interactive processes in museum displays are the subject of ongoing research among museum scholars. This study investigates how experts and museum scholars view the effectiveness of using ICTs in creating a trend in the development of museum exhibitions in the Emirate of Sharjah. It will also discuss which available ICT applications museums can apply to improve technology services for their visitors. The study was conducted at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, one of the largest museums in the Emirate of Sharjah. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected, with questionnaires being the main method of data collection. A questionnaire was distributed to learn the views of experts about the application of ICTs in museum exhibitions. The results of the study indicate that ICTs should be designed with physical surroundings in mind. Physical distance can be bridged using “mixed interfaces” or mobile devices.
Full-text available
A meta-analysis of the comparative distance education (DE) literature between 1985 and 2002 was conducted. In total, 232 studies containing 599 independent achievement, attitude, and retention outcomes were analyzed. Overall results indicated effect sizes of essentially zero on all three measures and wide variability. This suggests that many applications of DE outperform their classroom counterparts and many applications perform more poorly. Dividing achievement outcomes into synchronous and asynchronous forms of DE produced a somewhat different impression. In general, mean achievement effect sizes for synchronous applications favored classroom instruction while for asynchronous applications they favored DE. However, significant heterogeneity remained in each subset. Three clusters of study features—research methodology, pedagogy, and media—entered into weighted multiple regression, revealed, in general, that methodology accounted for the most variation followed by pedagogy and media, suggesting that Clark's (1983, 1994) claims of the importance of pedagogy over media are essentially correct. We go on to suggest that researchers move beyond simple comparisons between DE and classroom instruction to more pressing and productive lines of inquiry that may contribute more to our knowledge of what works best in DE.
This article addresses strategies for research infrastructure development in social work by building on the profession's work of the past two decades and by drawing on the experiences of the larger university environment. The article provides a set of recommendations for the next generation of social work research, which is likely to be highly interdisciplinary, focused on implementation of scientifically based programs, and called on to articulate its societal and economic contributions.
This paper makes use of theoretical ideas that have been developed to understand the impact of new technology on organizations and applies them to its use within social work agencies. These developing theories employ ideas that are familiar to social workers—organization theory, decision making theory, and communication theory. The paper therefore argues that social workers are in a good position to understand and influence the use of computers within welfare agencies and do not need to be inhibited by a lack of technological knowledge. It is further argued that, unless social workers do become involved in the ways in which new technologies are used within organizations, they will fail to influence its impact upon their clients and may further fail to control the way in which computers affect the nature of social work itself in the future.
This article provides an introduction to the Internet relevant to the field of social work. It describes uses for online communication, including e-mail, mailing lists, and the World Wide Web. Electronic technology increases access to information and offers an innovative forum where academicians, practitioners, researchers, and students can contribute to empirical and practice knowledge. Resources such as electronic journals, Web pages, and discussion groups are cited, with examples of how this new technology may supplement traditional ways of communication in the field of social work.
Objective Technology-enhanced education is becoming an increasingly important part of higher and professional education. Web-based course management tools such as WebCT (Web Course Tools) are the latest wave of technology-based pedagogical tools. The question is whether certain groups of students, in particular, nontraditional students, are disadvantaged when these tools are used for teaching and learning. Method This study reports on a survey of39 social work students’ satisfaction with and perception of impact of WebCT in social work education. Results All students found course materials on the course Web site helpful. Graduate and nontraditional students reported greater utility of the course management tools. Nontraditional students were not disadvantaged by, and preferred access to, Web-based courses. Conclusions Web-based and Web-enhanced courses hold promise for accommodating the needs of nontraditional students in social work education.
This paper reports on the evaluation of a world-wide-web-based social work research methods course in experimental design. The course was taught entirely on the Internet, with no meetings on campus. The same instructor taught another section of the same course during the same semester on campus. Descriptive process data and comparative student outcome data (grades and satisfaction) are presented. Recommendations are made for others considering such courses.
• Summary: This article argues that ICT has been viewed with suspicion and has been narrowly used in social work primarily for managerial and monitoring purposes. In light of the emphasis within social work on empowerment, the potential of ICT to facilitate empowering practice is explored • Findings: The article argues the social work profession should more actively challenge and resist the limited use made of ICT, and promote the appropriate use of ICT to improve social work practice and empower service users. • Applications : The article provides a rationale for using ICT in social work to address issues of service user powerlessness and economic and social exclusion. The potential uses to which ICT might be put within social work are discussed and examples are given of innovative social practice using ICT that could be usefully developed more widely.
Those who feel better able to express their “true selves” in Internet rather than face-to-face interaction settings are more likely to form close relationships with people met on the Internet (McKenna, Green, & Gleason, this issue). Building on these correlational findings from survey data, we conducted three laboratory experiments to directly test the hypothesized causal role of differential self-expression in Internet relationship formation. Experiments 1 and 2, using a reaction time task, found that for university undergraduates, the true-self concept is more accessible in memory during Internet interactions, and the actual self more accessible during face-to-face interactions. Experiment 3 confirmed that people randomly assigned to interact over the Internet (vs. face to face) were better able to express their true-self qualities to their partners.