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Developing social conventions of online image sharing: For youth, by youth

This unique intervention focuses on online image sharing, through social networking sites (SNS); a harmful form of cyber bullying behaviour. Young people, aged 9-11 years old, have significant and emergent technology and SNS use. Through the establishment of youth and stakeholder advisory committees, a relevant, acceptable, digital and hard copy intervention resource with salience for the target audience will be developed. The intervention will comprise a) skill development and b) education components to inform social expectations, rights, responsibilities and consequences relating to online image sharing. Importantly, young people will be key leaders in identifying solutions to this youth issue.

This project aims to establish and seek advice from two advisory committees (stakeholders and young people) to inform the development of an online resource to educate young people about social expectations, rights, responsibilities and consequences relating to image sharing online. A key objective of this program is to explore young peoples’ attitudes and behaviours towards online image sharing. This project is distinctive and significant because it seeks to engage students in learning how to use technology in safe ways by combining education about rights and responsibilities associated with image sharing using digital technologies with skill development related to use of these technologies. This is unique as many other research projects relating to technology use have focused on reducing negative behaviours associated with technology use, with little attention given to enhancing positive technology skills. The youth engagement approach used in this research further demonstrates its significance and provides an innovative way to involve young people in developing solutions to the issues they face.

The primary outcomes of this formative study are to develop an online resource to educate young people about positive online image sharing. Furthermore, this formative study will inform a larger intervention trial designed to investigate the feasibility of providing an online resource to educate 9 to 11 years olds about digital rights and responsibilities relating to image sharing and positive online behaviour. Changing young peoples' attitudes and behaviours about their online responsibilities and the use of images online will have important implications for their future. Therefore, the outcomes of this research will contribute to the safe use of online image sharing technologies by young people.

Within the area of health and wellness, this project aligns with ECU's focus areas through its impact on child and adolescent health and community health. Moreover, through the establishment of the industry and youth advisory committees, this research enables the Child Health Promotion Research Centre to expand its already significant level of community engagement to include key stakeholders in child and adolescent wellbeing and engage a youth voice in intervention development. Furthermore, educating young people about how to use technology more responsibly provides important social benefit through the reduction of cyber bullying behaviours, particularly image sharing; reported to be the most harmful type.  Moreover, the provision of an engaging, positive, technology-focused resource that can be used in a community setting provides additional opportunities for young people to develop a sense of connectedness to pro-social adults and peers. Finally, several economic benefits are expected from this research. The irresponsible use of technology in childhood and adolescence has far reaching implications with many employers now commonly searching for information about prospective employees online.

The benefits of this formative study on the wider community will aim to increase the capacity of stakeholders to deliver an intervention designed to increase skills associated with image capturing technologies as well as teach students about social expectations, rights, responsibility and consequences relating to positive online image sharing behaviours.

Project Duration


Funding Body

Edith Cowan University – Early Career Grant Scheme

For further information about this project please contact Dr Laura Thomas at


Dr Laura Thomas
Dr Leanne Lester
Professor Donna Cross

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