Use of smartphone technology in foster care to build relational competence: voices of caregivers and implications for prudent parenting

Keith A Alford, Ramona W. Denby, Efren Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasingly, child welfare programs are encouraged to consider how technology can help meet the goals of child protection, permanency, and well-being. Qualitative inquiry was used in this study to explore caregivers’ (biological parents, foster parents, kinship caregivers) perceptions of the use of smartphones to facilitate relational competence (an indicator of well-being) in foster youth. The implementation study (process and satisfaction evaluations) yielded mixed results concerning the viability of using smartphone technology to facilitate healthy, positive connections with appropriate adults. Although foster youth were highly satisfied with how this technology enabled them to forge relationships and establish connections, caregivers reported that the phone itself and the agency’s rules and restrictions usurped their parental authority and responsibility. Foster youth reported gains with respect to relationship building with others, but caregivers felt the acquisition of smartphones, as a method of intervention, compromised their relationship with the youth and the youths’ relationship with others. Caregivers also felt relations between foster youth and their workers were not necessarily enhanced via smartphone usage. Safeguards and recommendations concerning the use of smartphone technology, especially pertaining to prudent parenting, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Family Social Work
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • caregivers
  • Foster care
  • prudent parenting
  • relational competence
  • relationship building
  • smartphones
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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