In Real Life: Digital ethics and participation, reimagined by and for young people

Co-designing youth-driven education to help young people build positive, ethical online cultures

Girl using notebook and tablet

Our Vision
In 2021, 44% of young Australians encountered negative online experiences, with their main concerns being online interactions with peers and strangers, privacy issues (stolen identities, photo sharing without consent) and security issues (hacking, scams). Three quarters of young Australians have also highlighted critical information gaps in how to address and support their peers around issues of consent, respectful relationships and diversity online.

To tackle young people's online concerns, education programs and frameworks have been created. However, solutions are often constructed from an adult perspective. There is a need for youth-centred education that addresses the critical information gaps identified by young Australians. This project addresses the gap by co-designing resources with young people for delivery in schools, ensuring that content is relatable, relevant, inclusive and accessible. The resulting In Real Life resources will improve the delivery of online safety education by offering genuinely youth-centred, freely available and inclusive content to young people across Australia.

Our Project Plan
In Real Life will unfold over four phases:

Phase 1: Six online participatory research workshops will be run with 30 young people across Australia aged 12 to 17 years old. These workshops aim to explore young people’s authentic experiences, perceptions and feelings towards online safety and digital ethics issues. Follow-up design workshops will identify what young people need to create positive online cultures, how they want education about digital ethics delivered, and design principles for engaging, relevant and meaningful resources.

Phase 2:  Findings from the workshops will inform the co-production of Project Rockit’s In Real Life resource, working with a Student Creative Advisor cohort, and ongoing engagement with educators and schools. Safety by Design principles will be embedded to centre user safety and deliver empowering online education.

Phase 3:  Project Rockit will deliver In Real Life at scale to high school students.

Phase 4:  Y&R will evaluate the effectiveness of In Real Life, in early 2023.

Project History
Aspects of this project, including workshop design, have been informed by the key findings from our Consultations with Young People to Inform the eSafety Commissioner's Engagement Strategy for Young People.

What Impact will this research have?
In Real Life is the future of online safety, reimagined by young people, for young people. It moves beyond the “how” of online safety, and into the “why” of digital ethics. Through this approach, In Real Life will help young people develop the skills and knowledge to contribute to a more respectful, safe and inclusive online community. Specifically in our Phase 1 participatory workshops we aim to:

  1. Build an evidence base to underscore the development of In Real Life;
  2. Engage diverse young people in co-design to ensure that In Real Life is directly informed by young people’s needs, perspectives and experiences;
  3. Produce actionable findings to contribute to youth-centred, innovative online safety education for young Australians.

Research Outputs
Read the full 'Reimagining online safety education through the eyes of young people' report.

Collaboration team
This research project is a partnership between the Young and Resilient Research Centre and Project Rockit, a youth-driven organisation that delivers school-based educational workshops that address bullying, hate and prejudice across Australia.

Internal collaborators

External collaborators

This project is funded by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner Online Safety Grants program and is administered by Project Rockit.

October 2021 – July 2023

Contact: If you would like to get in contact with the In Real Life team, please email