Who are we ‘influencing’ in the world of ECEC?
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Who are we ‘influencing’ in the world of ECEC social media content?

Who are we ‘influencing’ in the world of ECEC social media content?

by Mel Duffy-Fagan

October 26, 2023

Mel Duffy-Fagan is an Approved Provider, academic and researcher within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector who recently completed her PhD with the University of Newcastle, exploring the themes of leadership and professional identity. 


In the piece below she shares her thoughts on the intersection of professional identity, social media and the broader ECEC community. 


“I recently completed my PhD in Education on the topics of leadership, quality policy and professional identity in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and am currently awaiting my examination results. Of course, my research topic is like the red car that you can’t stop seeing once you buy a red car,” she began. 


After five years of intensive research into this area, one thing has become clear each member of the ECEC plays into the discourses and truths which contribute to how ECEC is viewed by the broader community and that there is a need to ensure that ECEC is seen as more than just a vessel for productivity and economic growth, and as a place which drives social change and impacts the early years of a child’s life. 


“I see evidence of sector members blindly accepting trends, practices and quality policy discourses that does our professional identity formation a disservice by the lack of value placed on the quiet and meaningful achievement of our everyday work,” Ms Duffy-Fagan said.


Doing it for the ‘gram?


“What piqued my interest most recently was a post on LinkedIn by an ECEC consultant who had researched social media engagement by ECEC services and how others could achieve a ‘top performing post’. The information shared what to post, when to post, who to include and how to share other content to build followership. This led me to consider that possibly members of our sector consider being an ECEC ‘influencer’ as a new realm of gaining professional identity,” she continued.


“As a researcher of policy and leadership and a long-term ECEC professional I fear that this type of consultation advice pushes our sector further away from recognition as credible professionals within the education system and further entrenches the notion of ECEC professionals in the neoliberal ideology of the ‘childcare’ marketplace of ‘service’ and profit.”


“The reality of our Australian ECEC system is that we are a majority for-profit sector and with that comes the service providers’ right to market their business to compete within that market. However, I believe it is the responsibility of all within the ECEC sector to act mindfully in this area to ensure we are not underselling ourselves as professionals while upselling our workplaces.”


Questions to drive critical reflection


Ms Duffy-Fagan offered the following considerations to support individuals to critically reflect on their own professional identity, and how this intersects with their social media presence.


  •       Who are we posting to?


“Is the audience the families you partner with, the ECEC sector, the children, policy makers, the public in general? I would suggest that the content within a post would need to be quite different for each of these ‘followers’.”


  •   What message does our social media send to broader society about our profession?


“Are we advocating that we are highly skilled, knowledgeable professionals by using social media about our work with children? Why do we need a ‘top performing post’? Is there a discursive practice that we have been conditioned to engage with in our daily work that has led us to consider using social media to achieve this? 


“A discursive practice may be that by posting on social media we are creating evidence that can be used in QIP or self-assessment documents. Therefore, the power structures of quality policy discourse are guiding our decision making which can lessen our professional autonomy. The outcome of this can position us as passive agents within our profession by following trends instead of achieving value-rational, ethical and considered professional identity through simply doing our work each day.” 


Not all bad… but all can be dangerous


“As French philosopher Michel Foucault warned, ‘not everything is bad, but everything is dangerous’, which applies beautifully to the area of social media in ECEC,” Ms Duffy-Fagan said. 


“Tread carefully, and consider the latent dangers of engaging in seeking engagement. Likes, followers, engagement naturally feels good – it has been carefully designed to do just that! However, if we are going to go down this path as a sector, reflect and consider carefully the influence you are having on how the sector is perceived and its role and purpose for society.”


“We offer far more than curated images or emotive reels for viewing pleasure. Our work is political, ethical, meaningful and powerful. How are these concepts being conveyed in your posts?”

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button