Final Project (Fall 2016) – Foster Youth and Use of Social Media, by Roxana Rosala and Bryson Nishimoto

This study was done to find out, what the link between foster children and social media is. Specifically, would their status as a child in the foster system, cause any problems with them using any social media platform, e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or snapchat and various other platforms. This study does not single out any child as a foster child because we conducted interviews with the people in the field and also our friends to get an information on this topic. The information has summarized rules and regulations from people in the field and how it could possibly cause the laws or regulation to be strict and how can they acquire normalcy for the foster children. The paper also looks into aspects on what the possible implications of designing a law that will eventually govern the use of social media by foster children are. The reason for a child being in the foster care system is due to circumstances that require social services to remove the child. The natural thought is for the program is to give the child a better future by being very protective of the child; regardless of the child’s preferences. In the 2 interviews with the field workers, they did have some thoughts on, how they can go along with the process of protecting their charges online. Due to low responses we had from the google forms, we decided to change our sample to our friends. A new survey was designed from questions in our previous survey, but tailored more to individuals who may not have any experience on the topic. The responses from our friends varied and in summary, they would want their own foster child to feel free, enjoy, and explore the internet, e.g. blogging, connecting with friends, watching YouTube, and playing mass multiplayer online games. Anything that will allow them to express themselves and be happy. This paper further looks into our responses and various other reading materials to find out that there are currently no governing law as of right now, but it is a work in progress. There are other readings that showcase the statistics of teenagers’ use of social media in general. E.g. how many hours a day/week are spent online. Other readings highlighted statistics on foster children and their stay inside of the system. E.g. how many times they are moved from home to home. We found multiple pamphlets about foster children; they are online and to be used by foster parents as a set of guidelines to help keep their foster child safe on the internet from any potential harm. Caretakers can only advise the child on what not to share on social media by talking with their caseworker and helping them to understand why they cannot share certain, sensitive information about themselves. Depending on what the child shares on social media it can be detrimental to their own wellbeing and safety.
The concept of this paper was exploring that correlation through foster children and social media. Through this study we found that privacy, or what we chose to disclose on social media, is a very important matter especially for foster children.

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