Research released today reveals significant benefits to young
people through social networking, which helps them to build
relationships with the world around them and increases their sense
of community and belonging.
The research, conducted by the Cooperative Research Centre for
Young People, Technology and Wellbeing (YAW-CRC) also has shown
that young people are much better equipped to deal with online
risks than adults assume.
Researchers from the University of Western Sydney, Murdoch
University and the Inspire Foundation released the first two
reports of the YAW-CRC.
The research consists of a Literature Review on the Benefits of
Social Networking Services and the results of a Living Lab study on
Intergenerational Attitudes towards Social Networking and
Cybersafety in which researchers supported a group of young people
as they developed and delivered a cybersafety education workshop
for a group of parents with teenage children.
Associate Professor Jane Burns, CEO of YAW-CRC says, "This
research has shown that young people are experts in the digital
space. The Literature Review shows that social networking services
can benefit young people who use them. The Living Lab empowered
young people and showed that with support young people are an
excellent source of information and education for parents seeking
to understand cyber-safety."
The Literature Review revealed that, despite a public focus on
the negative aspects of social networking, there are significant
benefits to social networking, including:
- Enhancing young people's education;
- Supporting their personal relationships;
- Giving them safe opportunities to explore their identity;
- Increasing their sense of community and belonging.
"In the Living Lab we inverted the usual power relationships
that underpin cybersafety education. Instead of charging adults
with the responsibility of educating young people about
cybersafety, we put young people in charge" says Dr Amanda Third
from the University of Western Sydney.
"Our research has shown that young people have an incredible
amount of expertise. With support they can be an excellent source
of information and education for parents seeking to realistically
assess the cybersafety risks their children face."
The research concluded that the youth-led workshop proved to be
an effective way to respond to parents' concerns about
Parents reported that having access to the expertise of a young
person not only helped them understand what young people are doing
online but also gave them a new appreciation of the benefits of
social networking for young people, skilled them in the use of the
technology and encouraged them to have more productive cybersafety
conversations with their own children.
"It was really fantastic to have a young person who was able to
show me the techniques that she uses to be able to block, or filter
or manage her online relationships." said Maxine, parent and
The research also revealed that maximising the benefits of
social networking services and promoting internet and media
literacy is likely to help young people manage many of the risks of
online interaction, such as cyberbullying, privacy breaches and
The CRC for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing will be
officially launched later in 2011 and intends to take up
large-scale research in this area.
The establishment of the CRC gives researchers an unprecedented
opportunity to investigate the issues relating to young people's
technology use and will leverage a wide range of both academic and
practitioner expertise, as well as the expertise of young
"Technology and online social networking is an integral part of
life for the majority of young Australians. Young people don't
differentiate between their online and offline worlds. It's
essential that parents talk to young people about what they do
online and how they keep themselves safe" concludes Burns.