How to support positive peer relationships among young people in online spaces

Content type
Event date

21 February 2024, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (AEDT)


Hue Dwyer, Casey Thorpe, Riley Scott , Mandy Truong



About this webinar

This webinar was held on Wednesday, 21 February 2024.

A full recording of the webinar and related resources, including slides, audio and a transcript, will be published soon. Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive a notification when these resources are available.

The ‘middle years’ or early adolescence (8–14 years) is a critical period of physical, emotional and social development that has important ramifications for present and future wellbeing. Notably, during this time young people begin to spend more time with their friends and less time with their parents and greater amounts of time connecting online via digital media.

Digital media platforms help young people develop and maintain relationships with friends and family, make new social connections and find support networks. However, there are concerns among professionals and parents that young people’s online interactions also have significant negative influences on mental health and wellbeing and are detrimental to ‘real life’ interactions with peers and adults.   

Research suggests there is a strong association between peer relationships and mental health in the middle years. Overall, positive peer relationships such as mutual understanding and support are associated with positive mental health and fewer externalising behaviours, such as aggression.

Given young people interact so much online, practitioners should develop ways to promote healthy online experiences, including ways to encourage positive peer relationships. In doing so, practitioners can play an important role in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

This webinar will help you:

  • understand the similarities and differences between online and offline peer relationships and interactions
  • understand the benefits of online peer relationships for young people and some of the challenges they experience while navigating them, including their impacts on mental health and wellbeing
  • develop insight into how to support young people to develop positive peer relationships in online spaces and how families can encourage these positive relationships.

This webinar will interest general family and child services practitioners working in areas including child and family services, parenting and relationship services, health and education.

Related resources

Related resources


  • Health advisory on social media use in adolescence 
    This list of science-based recommendations from the American Psychological Association examine the potential beneficial and harmful effects of social media use on adolescents’ social, educational, psychological, and neurological development.
  • Tech Without Stress 
    Founded by psychologists Dr. Jacqueline Nesi and Dr. Emily Weinstein, this website offers an evidence-based tech-parenting guide that aims to support parents assist their kids in developing healthy tech habit.
  • Online safety 
    This website from the eSafety Commissioner provides education on online safety risks and has resources tailored to both kids and young people.
  • Do not call register 
    The national ‘do not call’ registry where parents can register their child’s phone number to reduce telemarketing/spam calls.

Short Articles


Hue Dwyer | Year 8 student attending high school in Melbourne, Victoria.

Hue Dwyer is a year 8 student attending high school in Melbourne, Victoria. She loves to write and read as well as play instruments (guitar and double bass).

Casey Thorpe | Service Coordinator for Anglicare Southern Queensland's Family Mental Health Support Service.

With over 15 years of experience in Human Services, Casey has a special interest in supporting the mental health of young people. Currently serving as the Service Coordinator for Anglicare Southern Queensland's Family Mental Health Support Service, Casey and her team of Practitioners are committed to providing comprehensive care and guidance to empower young people facing mental health challenges. Over her career, Casey has developed an understanding of adolescents' needs and a proactive approach in developing impactful programs aimed at fostering resilience. Casey takes pride in being a catalyst for positive change, working to create a supportive environment where young people and their families can thrive and flourish.

Dr Riley Scott | Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Wellbeing at the University of Southern Queensland.

Dr Riley Scott is a Lecturer in the School of Psychology and Wellbeing at the University of Southern Queensland, working in areas of social, cyber, and developmental psychology. Riley completed her Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University.

Riley’s research focuses on understanding risks and protective factors for youth well-being and development in the digital age. Riley’s primary research interests include contemporary friendships among youth, differences between online and offline (face-to-face) interactions with close friends, and implications of online engagement for socially vulnerable (e.g., anxious or lonely) adolescents and young adults. Riley has also published papers related to adolescents’ digital emotion regulation, cyberbullying, online appearance preoccupation, and perceptions of the internet and online disinhibition. Riley is currently leading a project that explores opportunities for social media literacy development in youth, to support positive peer relationships and interactions online.


Dr Mandy Truong | Research Fellow, Child and Family Evidence

Dr Mandy Truong is a Research Fellow in the Child and Family Evidence team at AIFS. She co-manages the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) program that focusses on synthesising and translating evidence for practice and decision-making in service settings about what works for children and families.

Mandy is an experienced public health researcher, educator and health professional with experience in qualitative, mixed methods and evidence synthesis studies on topics including, cultural competency in healthcare, racism and health, migrant health and family and domestic violence.