Safe and Well Online: Researching Social Communications in the Promotion of Young People's Safety and Wellbeing

This five year project considers the increasingly important role of social media and communication strategies in health promotion to promote the safety and wellbeing of young people. In the context of increasingly complex systems of socio-cultural mediated communication, policy imperatives, and a plethora of programs and interventions, there is a need to consider what an effective youth-centred approach would look like and how this can be delivered in the evolving media ecology. The Online Social Marketing for Safety and Wellbeing project is especially relevant to ICS. In this project, ICS researchers (Collin, a Post-Doc Fellow and PhD will lead the stakeholder research component of the project.

A girl writing on paper on a white board. 


1. To bring together young people, digital media and online safety experts, government, end-user and research partners to advance our understanding of how social media can be used to promote the safety and wellbeing of young people aged 12-18.

2. To employ participatory design and test-retest methodologies to design and deliver social marketing campaigns through social media.

3. To use established methodologies in longitudinal tracking combined with innovative digital data collection and analysis to measure engagement, attitude and behaviour change.

4. Through engaged research and utilisation develop a best-practice framework that extends the impact of this project to Young and Well CRC partners in order to reach new audiences of young people and address other issues affecting their wellbeing.

^ Back to top


This project will develop and test a continuous program of online youth-centred social marketing campaigns to promote safety and wellbeing. In partnership with young people, government and non-government organisations and the digital media industry, this project will develop and evaluate an online social marketing platform, at least 4 campaigns and will use longitudinal tracking and innovative digital data collection to measure reach, outcome and impact. It uses a participatory approach to emphasise youth experience as a form of knowledge and tests participatory design methods and artefacts as strategy for integrating 'the evidence base' with 'user experience'.

This Western Sydney University focus will be to lead the stakeholder research component of the project and experiment with ways to productively work with a vast range of stakeholders (over 15 from government, non-government and commercial sector partners as well as young people) and data (analogue and digital). In this way, the project is considering questions of interdisciplinarity and method, as well as the ways in which politics, values and inter-personal relationships shape the definition, interpretation and responses to issues of youth digital participation and safety. Questions of knowledge brokering and translation (among academia, industry, service delivery and policy) are central to the project and these complex processes will be studied over the five years. Moreover, the research critically engages with notions of network governance and new institutions and repertoires of civic action as they relate to questions of youth, participation and cybersafety.

The use of a participatory approach is to emphasise youth experience as a legitimate form of knowledge. Participatory design methods and artefacts will be trailed as strategies for integrating 'the evidence base' with 'user experience'. Project design consists of an annual cycle of three phases: literature reviews and participatory generative research; participatory campaign design, and delivery; engagement and impact evaluation. Participatory research methods including interactive workshops, focus groups, online diaries, digital photography, video and social tagging will be used.

Key questions for the ICS component of this project are:

  • How can research into the promotion of safety and wellbeing meaningfully account for the lived experiences of young people?
  • What is the role of youth social media use in social change?
  • What is the role of participatory research for knowledge brokering and translation? What status can participatory research assume in the context of adult-centric, scientistic forms of knowledge and in the context of a rapidly changing world in which both youth experience and digital practice are marked by both powerful forms of change and continuity. 
  • What knowledge practices enable or prevent knowledge translation in multi-stakeholder, complex policy communities. What is the role of engaged research for promoting effective knowledge brokering and translation?
  • How can Big Data associated with social media campaigns be managed, analysed and interpreted in relation to other forms of data produced in the project?
  • What is ethical practice in the context of Big Data – what is it and what do we mean when we talk about young people, social media, Big Data, participatory research and ethics?

^ Back to top


Research Partners

Logos of Queensland University of Technology, Western Sydney University, University of South Australia, Zuni.

Sector Partners

The 11 logos of the sector partners listed above.

^ Back To Top
ICS Website Feedback