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. Ourproject team conducted participatory workshops with young people address this gap and better understand how to make online safety education relatable, relevant, inclusive and accessible.

Our Project Plan

In Real Life unfolded over four phases in partnership with PROJECT ROCKIT, a youth-driven Australian organisation committed to creating a kinder (online) world.

Phase 1: We conducted online participatory research workshops with 31 young people across Australia, aged 12 to 17 years old, in 2022. These workshops explored young people’s authentic experiences, perceptions and feelings towards online safety and digital ethics issues. In follow-up design workshops young people identified what they need to create positive online cultures, and how they want education about online safety delivered. They shared design principles for creating engaging, relevant and meaningful resources. 

Phase 2:  Findings from the workshops informed the co-creation of PROJECT ROCKIT’s In Real Life video resources. These were developed in partnership with six Content Advisors and 21 Content Creators. Safety by Design principles were embedded to centre user safety and deliver empowering online education.

Phase 3:  PROJECT ROCKIT has since launched a suite of online video resources, In Real Life, available for free to help teachers design lessons about the online world.  

Phase 4:  Y&R evaluated the participatory process leading to the development of In Real Life.  Through interviews with content creators and advisors, PROJECT ROCKIT stakeholders and expert stakeholders, we identified the benefits and challenges of a co-creation process from the perspectives of young people and adults involved in the process; learnings for participatory design processes; and learnings for the uptake of school-based online safety education resources.

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?

The young people we spoke to suggested that current online safety education isn’t working, and it’s not just a matter of making small changes. Better online safety education needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Taking this on board, we channelled young people’s insights to develop a reimagined online safety education framework for organisations looking to develop genuinely youth-centred learning experiences. Secondly, we developed a set of principles for delivering (online) safety education to make sure young people’s everyday experiences are centred and acknowledged. This framework and principles helped to inform the creation of In Real Life.

To date, In Real Life’ has reached more than 50,000 young people via social media channels and was an honouree at the 2023 Webby awards.

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