Using Social Media to Interact with Your Youth

Working with youth today often requires a set of skills that probably did not exist decades ago. One of the phenomena to pay attention to today is the high use of social media that is used constantly to build social circles, maintain social circles and communicate trends, ideas and overall general information.

Chances are that you have not only heard about the online social network Facebook, but probably have an account of your own. If you don’t have a Facebook account, know that the youth work will most likely have one that they’ve had for a while now. On this account, they share personal information, post photos and visit this virtual spot more than once a day. What an ideal space to interact with your youth and communicate information you want them to know about.

But, beware. Like face to face interactions with your youth, there is a need to respect professional boundaries when using social media to outreach to your youth. Here are a few:

(1) Don’t share too much personal information about yourself on your profile that they students can access

(2) Don’t allow students access to post items on your profile that are inappropriate (i.e. risque photos, etc.)

(3) Communicate with your youth online within a work oriented time-frame– i.e. 9 to 5– to establish a boundary on your time.

(4) Be responsible with what information you share online. Be mindful that any interaction with your youth online serves as automatic documentation, so anything inappropriate is recorded for later retrieval.

SOYA founder Khadijah Ali-Coleman will be interviewed by BAP Living Radio host Ananda Leeke on June 7, 2009 as part of Leeke’s series on Women in Social Media. Ali-Coleman is content manager of the site Read more details about the interview HERE.