The teenager’s parents set up an email account for their offspring and asked staff at the home to manage it, as the teenage boy was unable to do so by himself.
Personnel, hesitant to comply, turned to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to find out whether it was ethical or not for them to login as the boy and post updates in his name.
They were worried to manage an account that the boy couldn’t take responsibility for himself, and also questioned whether it was the wishes of the parents or the teen to be active on social media.
However, according to the agency’s ethical council, it is the role of the caregivers to make it possible for the boy to “lead a normal life” to as large an extent as possible.
The council said that for those with communication difficulties, Facebook and other social media enhance their ability to participate in society and a chance to communicate with others on more equal terms.
The council also deemed that Facebook and other social media such as Skype and Easymail may prove to hold potential for this specific teen’s own development, and advised staff to find adequate communication tools to suit the boy’s needs and wishes.
The overall aim must be, the council stated, to increase the teen’s ability to communicate with his surroundings in a way that would further his development and is common among his peer group.
Staff should make every effort to glean whether it is the teen himself or his parents who actively wanted him to be active on social media, through dialogue with the teenager himself.
It is up to the parents to decide what kind of support their children need, but it is the role of the staff to evaluate and decide how this should be organized, the council found.
However, in the case of the teenager’s Facebook account, the council said that staff would have to have serious reservations before declining to manage it for him.