Social media can be defined as anything online. Whether you use platforms like Facebook and Instagram or your personal website, it is still considered social media and online. But there is something to be really careful of when publishing online. And that’s privacy. Often people say it’s better to ask for forgiveness than peractivity. This is most certainly not the case when it comes to the world wide web!

I will start by saying I post content online all the time. Whether it is photos, videos, or writing articles. There is, however, a magic ingredient that allows me to do this. And I’m going to share it with you….

Peractivity.

It’s one simple word. All you need to do is ask your member and often their carer or disability support worker too if it is okay to post online (and I mean before you actually publish your content online).

Is it okay to connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other mediums?

So the blanket answer for this is NO. It is not okay to reach out and connect out of nowhere. We cannot forget that as Social Carers, we are working. Whilst we may be members friends and companions, we are still employees and there is a monetary transaction involved. Therefore unless you ask them if it is okay to connect in the first place (preferably in person), it is not okay to simply add them to any medium.

This doesn’t, however, mean you can’t add them at all or for that matter ever. It just means you need to ask them first. They may be quite happy to connect online, but you’ll never know unless you ask.

Is it okay to post content of them online?

Absolutely not. Unless you have asked them if you can, you have no right to take photos or writing content and post them to the world. This includes writing about them, writing their name in an article, tagging them on social media and in any way linking them directly. You may have the best intentions, talking and sharing about your experiences and the great work you are doing, but unless they give you peractivity, it is not okay to either take photos, post them or write content about them.

I have a member myself, that loves to take ‘selfies’ with me and we post them online together. And this is how I got around this… I asked him and checked with his carer. Not all members can understand the concept or the consequences of the online world. Therefore, sometimes it is best to check with their carer and to be safe rather than sorry. In fact, some members don’t mind you writing about your experiences as long as you keep their name and face out of it. There are definitely ways around this if you just ask for peractivity.

How do I handle uncomfortable situations where members try to connect with me?

Honestly, this isn’t always easy. There is nothing worse than being harassed or uncomfortable with the online world. Often people view things differently, and the best place to start when being uncomfortable is to ask a person to stop. If you tell them their actions are making you uncomfortable, in most instances they will stop doing them.

But let’s be realistic, we are not always dealing with people with the same understandings as us. And that’s okay. How people interpret what is okay behaviour and what is not, is very subjective from person to person. If you ask someone to stop doing something and they continue to proceed with that task, it is best to get a carer involved and notify the Like Family team. By letting the team know, you are able to make them aware in case a similar situation occurs. It’s perfectly normal to not be comfortable with everything, and  perhaps that can lead to you no longer work with someone. You have every right to choose to block someone from your accounts and hold your care and safety as high as others.

So to summarise, here are some practical ways to interact comfortably and safely on social media:

  1. Ask your member before taking a photo
  2. Ask your member if it’s okay to add them on a specific platform
  3. Ask your member if it’s okay to post a specific photo online
  4. Ask your member if it’s okay to write content about them
  5. Ask your member if they are okay with you filming them

Honestly, the best thing you can do is ASK YOUR MEMBER. It’s really that easy. Don’t do anything you don’t want doing to yourself, respect others privacy and be considerate of their feelings. All situations can be avoided by talking and asking for PERMISSION.

And the best thing you can do if you are uncomfortable is to talk to the member. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, speak to the carer and then reach out to the Like Family if needed. Most importantly, don’t retaliate, post things online or block members straight away, as they may not understand if you don’t talk to them.

If you live in NSW and would like to help us end social isolation and loneliness, then Like Family wants to meet you! Sign up now to become a Social Carer where you will be matched with members in your local area who share your interests and are looking for companionship and support.