Young people are the present AND the future.

Youth can play many roles in co-creating a better tech future. Here are ways to engage youth as advisors, content creators, and researchers.

Youth as Advisors

Youth are powerful advisors and collaborators. However, when problems arise, adults tend to brainstorm, create, and implement solutions and innovations before engaging young people. Instead, consider creating an ongoing youth advisory council that will shape and evaluate new work.

Insights for Engaging Youth as Advisors
  • When given the opportunity, tools, and resources, young people will advocate for themselves and achieve goals.
  • Starting an advisory council is a great way to effectively encourage student leadership. When doing so, adults need to be supportive without taking over.
  • Consider designing alongside teens rather than acting solely as a facilitator; working to uplift their ideas and integrate suggestions based on what is heard.



Project Zero

Youth Co-Design Process Toolkit

This resource includes a process and activities for educators to support teens in co-designing their own digital well-being toolkit. Learn how to guide teens through sharing strategies for tech challenges and identifying and building a prototype of their own (e.g., infographic, collection of memes, 1-pager with strategies).

Download Toolkit



Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

inspirED School Climate Playbook

The inspirED School Climate Playbook a one-stop shop for all the resources you need to complete a school climate improvement project at your school. Start a youth advisory council for students to participate in the project and positively influence their school.

Download Playbook

Youth as Content Creators

Youth hold insights into what is working (and not working) within the digital world. They have the capacity to share in a more genuine way when not filtered through an adult lens. By giving youth control over the content, style, and dissemination of their creations, you can foster liberatory imagination and give youth the tools and space to create a future where technology creates opportunities for everyone.

Insights for Engaging Youth as Content Creators
  • Young people feel included when they get the opportunity to discuss topics that matter to them.
  • Educators should be prepared to help with logistics, collection of information, and synthesizing of youth-led work.
  • It requires trust and time for youth to be honest and authentic about what their online behavior is actually like when there is an adult in the room.



Digital Harbor Foundation

Student Podcast Curriculum Guide

The Student Podcast Curriculum Guide breaks down the podcasting processes through a series of sample lesson plans to ensure that students have the skills and background knowledge to share their voices.

Download Curriculum

Youth as Researchers

Youth feel included when they get the opportunity to discuss and learn more about topics that matter to them e.g., the impact of digital spaces. Let youth lead research efforts to unpack data, evaluate programs, and shape more relevant metrics to make the value of youth voice and insight more explicit in your work.

Insights for Engaging Youth as Researchers
  • Youth-led research projects should be tied to real-world situations identified by the youth conducting the research.
  • The research project should be geared toward an act of sharing knowledge that responds to the needs and goals of the youth researchers and their communities.
  • It is essential to respect the time and labor of youth who take on roles in a research project.



Beam Center

Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Guide

Learn how the Beam Center implemented the YPAR method in order to engage youth as researchers.

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Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) Hub

This external resource hub from UC Berkeley shares background on the Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) model as well as activities for getting started. This resource was not created as part of the Thriving Youth project but provides supplemental knowledge.

Learn More

Kids Are Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

From an educator

Emily Weinstein of Harvard's Project Zero shares why listening to young people and actively engaging in conversations can be powerful.

How might you engage youth as leaders?