Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nurses' Online Behaviour: Lessons for the Nursing Profession

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nurses' Online Behaviour: Lessons for the Nursing Profession

Article excerpt

Introduction

Advances in technology, including the internet, have dramatically changed the way that personal information is collected and used. Personal information can be transferred rapidly around the globe; therefore, individuals are now having to consider online privacy and how to protect their personal information when accessing the internet and its functions (Gross & Acquisti, 2005). Social networking is extremely popular; however, information revelation within these networks means the lines between personal, private and professional are becoming increasingly blurred. The popularity of social media means that nurses might create an online profile for themselves on social media; however, it is important for nurses to understand privacy laws and how privacy laws can be applied in the online space. Furthermore, the lines between personal and professional are also becoming blurred, with people disclosing aspects of their working day that could breach professional standards and etiquette. Keast (2015) outlines that pages on social media dedicated to nursing often have some very graphic images and posts, which could be demeaning or derogatory to patients. The perceived anonymity of the internet, and the belief they are having a "private" or semi-private conversation with friends means that some internet users, including some nurses behave in a manner contrary to how they would ordinarily behave. However, nurses do need to understand that their online behaviour can have realworld consequences for things such as their nursing registration and employment. The digital trail is the wide wake we tend to leave as we transact an electronically mediated life and can have powerful repercussions in unrelated areas (Zeller, 2006). Evidence is emerging from nursing licensing boards, legal cases and popular media reports that social media use can pose risks for health professionals (Eytan, Benabio, Golla, Parikh, & Stein, 2011). Yet, there are many positives associated with the use of social media, and Ferguson (2013, p. 745) states "it's time for the nursing profession to leverage social media". However, it is important to understand the perils and pitfalls associated with social media and how to avoid problematic situations. Nurses need to navigate the delicate balancing act associated between privacy and over-sharing. Those who spend more time online are more likely to disclose too much information (Christofides, Muise, &Desmarais, 2012), while Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe (2007) found that the need for popularity is a strong predictor of information disclosure on Facebook. Farnan and Arora (2011) found that casual users of social media were more likely to not understand the potential repercussions of their online behaviour, and that advanced users were more keenly aware of the potential repercussions, and were less likely to transgress boundaries.

This discussion article is designed to help nurses manage their online presence. It will outline the potential problems that can occur when nurses use social media such as Facebook. It will consider breaches in confidentiality and professional boundaries, and how to prevent such breaches. It will consider theoretical perspectives related to social media to gain an understanding of why problematic behaviour in the online environment might occur. Bullying has been reported in the nursing profession (Cleary, Hunt, & Horsfall, 2010), and this paper will explore cyberbullying as an example of online behaviour. The digital trail of nurses can be seen in recent tabloid reports of "selfies ban", in which nurses had taken photos of themselves with patients or in clinical areas, added cheeky captions and posted on Facebook. The same newspaper headline stated that "naughty nurses read riot act over work photos" (Silmalis, 2013, p. 7). There is no suggestion in this article or in the available literature that large numbers of nurses are committing breaches of professional etiquette on social media. …

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