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July/August 2017 Issue

Editor's Note: Technology Tune-Up
By Marianne Mallon
Social Work Today
Vol. 17 No. 4 P. 3

"Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate."
— Alvin Toffler, an American writer and futurist

In a March 2016 article in Singularity Hub, Alison E. Berman and Jason Dorrier explain that a decade ago, smartphones (as we know them today) didn't exist. And 40 years ago, no one owned a personal computer. Today, it seems nearly everyone is mesmerized by a handheld computer. (Two-thirds of American adults own one, according to a 2015 Pew report.) It feels like technology is progressing faster than ever; according to Ray Kurzweil, an American author, computer scientist, inventor, and futurist, in his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, it really is.

The 2005 Technology Standards established by NASW and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) were created as a guide to the professional and ethical use of technology in social work practice and education. The world of technology was a significantly different one at that time. Since 2005, online or distance social work education has expanded in a major way, online counseling has become a more commonplace practice among clinicians, electronic recordkeeping is becoming the gold standard in health care including behavioral health care, and social media has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, including our professional lives.

Technology has changed since 2005, and the creators of the Technology Standards recognized the need to revise the standards to respond to the changes that have occurred since the original standards were released. NASW and ASWB collaborated with the Council on Social Work Education and the Clinical Social Work Association to rework the standards to reflect the new world of technological changes in 2017.
The question is, with the exponential rate of change in technology, how long will it be before the revised Technology Standards will need to be updated again? Hopefully, the new standards will be a sturdy guide for at least another decade.

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Marianne Mallon