The Screenagers Project Logo


UNIT 2: Our Online Worlds


< Curriculum


Themes & Ideas



Mental Wellness

Online Identities

Online Safety

What Students Will Uncover

Students will consider how their online personas compare to who they are in person and consider how social media and video games can impact their physical and mental wellbeing.

Lesson Overview

This lesson takes a deeper look at one of the main themes from the film: online identities. It works well for educators to run...

  1. As a follow up to the Screening and Class Discussion Lesson Plan

  2. Independently, if you already know this is a subject you want to explore in particular.

We recommend that students watch the film prior to (or as part of) this lesson, but relevant clips are embedded throughout the guide if students do not have time to watch the whole film, or if they need a refresher on its content.

The lesson is organized around activities that can be completed during a class period. Educators are encouraged to review the lesson activities beforehand to assess suitability for class timing and teaching style. Educators can select and arrange the activities in a way that suits them, which can include choosing to run activities over multiple periods or setting activities as homework assignments.

Lesson Objectives

  • Understand the research around how technology impacts their attention span and brain development
  • Consider the dangers of tech addiction
  • Explore how technology can affect the way we communicate with people
  • Compare their own experiences with those of the subjects in the film, utilizing empathy and understanding

Lesson Materials


1:1 Program — when a school or district provides every student with a digital device meant to enhance their learning.

Digital citizenship — using technology and the internet in a responsible and respectful way.

Away For The Day — policy that ensures that personal digital devices not provided by the school are kept out of sight during school hours.

Self-control — the ability to control how we express our emotions and act on our impulses.

Digital literacy — the ability to use digital media tools like social media and the internet to learn, create, communicate and work.

Media literacy — the ability to analyze, create and evaluate media in a variety of forms, from movies to the internet to books.


This section is intended for the educator, providing them with information about the film, its themes and topics, as well as tips for how to lead students in an impactful discussion.

About The Film

The Film in Context


Lesson Introduction

Opening Discussion

  • Ask students to recall the film they recently watched (Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age)
  • Prompt student recall by asking some general questions to ensure they remember.
What positive social media experiences did you remember seeing in the film? What negative ones do you remember? 
When it comes to who we are online, which moments of the film stand out to you?
  • Explain that in today's lesson, you will be taking a closer look at one of the main themes of the film: online identities and completing a number of activities together.

Before The Movie

Play The Film

Play Film Not available in preview

Lesson Activities

Activity 1

plus symbol

Who are We On and Offline? (15-20 mins) 

Students work collaboratively. 

  1. Educator hands out Post-its.
  2. Stand at the board and ask your students about the differences between communicating online and communicating in-person. 
  3. Create a chart with each of the below questions with the head “Online” and “Offline” and “Both." Or a chart with just Online and Offline, and then see if your student ask for a “Both” category.
  4. Pose below questions one at a time. Some sample situations: 
Most often, how do you meet and make new friends?
Most often, how do you deal with conflicts with friends or peers? 
Most often, how do you approach to someone you’re interested in being friends with? 

Ask students to reflect: why does the way we interact with people change so much depending on whether we’re on or offline? 

Key Learning: Students model self-awareness and investigate their own on and offline habits.

More topics, discussion questions and movie clips relating to "Who are We On and Offline?":

Risky choices
A student named Hannah sends a nude to a boy she likes. It gets shared around school, and she is harassed by her peers relentlessly, making her feel ostracized and depressed. Although she initially keeps this from her mom because she’s worried about disappointing her, Hannah eventually does tell her mother when she realizes she can’t handle the situation alone. Together, they work on addressing the issue.

Here is a clip from Hannah's story:

Do you think you speak to people the same online and in person?
How private and how permanent are the things that we post online? 
If you were in Hannah’s situation, would you ask your parents for help? 
Do you feel safe on social media? 

Physical appearance and social media

In this clip, Delaney talks with some girls about the pressures of being on social media.

Delaney speaks to another student, who explains how stress over her self-image seems to take over everything else in her life in this clip.

Do you know people who edit and touch up the photos of themselves that they post online? Have you ever edited photos you’ve posted? 
How important is your social media identity?

Digital footprint

Every time we use the internet, we add to a trail of permanent data that we’re leaving behind. Your digital footprint is made up of the websites in your search history, emails you send and photos you post, among other things. This means that the things we send or post are never completely private. Once you create something online that other people have access to (even if it’s a small group of people), that content is no longer completely in your control.

And beyond the things we intentionally put on the internet, our digital footprint is also comprised of the products we browse and different data collection methods that websites use, like cookies. It’s important to be aware of what our digital footprint looks like because it can impact our reputation on and offline.

Because tech is everywhere, it's important to consider online safety concerns when incorporating technology into classrooms and teaching digital citizenship.

Scams like phishing, where hackers try to get sensitive information from their victims by posing as a trustworthy source, can be easy to fall for and sometimes target children. It’s also important to be aware of internet data collection and what websites do with the data they collect.

How do you regulate who follows your social media accounts?
Have you or anyone you know ever had an experience with an internet scam?
What do you know about internet privacy, permanence and data collection?

Positives of social media

Delaney talks with her daughter Tessa about her online life, and considers how often physical appearance is emphasized online. “But,” Delaney adds in this clip, “there was also a lot more positive communication than I guess I had expected."

How do you use social media to connect with friends and family? 

Activity 2

plus symbol

Social Media Investigation (40 mins, potential homework assignment)

Students work collaboratively.

  1. Split students into small groups of about 5 kids each.
  2. Have each group conduct some brief research and analyze one of the following apps: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or TikTok. They should spend around 15 minutes researching. (Depending on your rules, students should do this activity for homework if they are not allowed to use devices in the classroom. If they are allowed to use their devices in the classroom, they might open the app or conduct research on the internet.)
  3. They should look closely at the app’s features and consider reasons for including certain features. For instance, why does Instagram have a like button and a comment feature? Why does TikTok have a page that is tailored to content the app thinks you’ll be interested in?
  4. Students should come up with an effective way to present their findings to their classmates, whether it be through a poster, digital slides, a video, or another means.
  5. Ask the students to come back together and share their findings and speculations. Ask them if this exercise changed what they think about these apps.

Key Learning: Students get practice in researching and collecting data relating to apps that they likely use in their own lives. Students consider how to best present content to a specific audience.

More discussion questions relating to "Social Media Investigation":

Usage realities

How much time do you think you spend on social media in a week?
How much would you say you enjoy social media? 

Teenagers spend many hours on screens for entertainment, some spending the majority of their free time looking at screens. 

Does your school have rules about how students should conduct themselves while online? Are rules enforced?
How do digital devices positively connect you to your friends and family? 

Activity 3

plus symbol

In Someone Else’s Shoes (30 mins)

Students work individually. 

Research someone’s story of video game addiction. In a few paragraphs, describe how this addiction impacted this person’s relationships, daily life and self-view.  

Key Learning: Students utilize empathy and understanding to recognize the challenges of someone who is different from them.

More topics, discussion questions and movie clips relating to "In Someone Else's Shoes":

The reality of video game addiction

In the clip to the left, Andrew and his family share their story of Andrew’s addiction to video games. Though he had been a good student through high school, Andrew had to drop out of college after his first year because he failed all his classes.

Internet and video game addiction is a growing phenomenon worldwide. Andrew’s college education was disrupted by it, and his whole family was affected. He ultimately went to a rehabilitation center for those who have video game / social media addictions called reSTART. 

Have you experienced or encountered screen addiction among people you know?
Before hearing Andrew’s story, did you know that screen addiction exists? Did learning about Andrew’s experience surprise you at all? 

In this clip you see Andrew explaining how his video gaming took time from his other hobbies, like playing the piano.

Do you relate to Andrew at all? Is there anything in your life that you used to love that technology has replaced or taken time away from?

Andrew is not alone. Video game addiction is as real as any other addiction, according to experts. Cosette Rae, the founder of reSTART, explains in this clip to the right how a video game addiction triggers the same neural pathways as a substance addiction.

Research psychologist and educator Dr. Larry Rosen reiterates in this clip to the right that video game addiction is as real as any other addiction.

Activity 4

plus symbol

What Do We Play? (10 mins) 

Students work individually. 

Look at the list of top-selling video games of 2021. If you’ve played any of them, write down how you think they impacted you next to their name on the list. Did playing the game change your mood? How long did you spend on it? Do you feel like you had more control over it or like it had more control over you?

Top 10 selling video games in 2021

  1. Call of Duty: Vanguard
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War
  3. Madden NFL 22
  4. Pokemon: Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
  5. Battlefield 2042
  6. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  7. Mario Kart 8 
  8. Resident Evil: Village
  9. MLB: The Show 21
  10. Super Mario 3D World

Key Learning: Students exercise self-awareness by investigating their own video game habits.

More topics, discussion questions and movie clips relating to "What Do We Play?": 

The impact of violence in video games

Child development researcher Dimitri Christakis, MD, reminds us in this clip that all media is educational.

If you play video games, do you think you learn anything from the ones you play? If so, what? 

Though we are unsure if violent video games directly influence gamers to be more violent, we do know that the violence in these games can desensitize players to violence in the real world. When we see violence over and over again, our brains become used to it and it no longer shocks us in the way it did the first time.

Does what Christakis shared about violent video games and the military surprise you? 

Video games and empathy

In this clip, Christakis draws attention to the way that video games impact the way perceive violence, and therefore the way we experience empathy.

However, in this clip, psychology professor Sherry Turkle, PhD reminds us that empathy doesn't have to disappear forever. It can be restored if we change our habits overtime.

What are Prosocial Games? (homework assignment) 

Students work individually.

Take some time to check out prosocial games. You can find a list on Common Sense Media’s website. Play a few and be ready to discuss them with peers. 

Discuss: did you enjoy the prosocial games you tried? If you often play video games, how did prosocial games compare to the ones you usually play?

Key Learning: Students are encouraged to be open-minded and express curiosity in trying something new.

Information to consider: 

Prosocial games

Prosocial video games have objectives that center helping and supporting others rather than enacting violence on others. Some studies suggest a correlation between prosocial gaming and prosocial behaviors. Below is a list of prosocial games that you can also find linked on the Screenagers website. 

Top 10 prosocial games in 2021

  1. Alba: A Wildlife Adventure 
  2. TOEM
  3. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
  4. Dragon Quest Builders 2
  5. Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker
  6. The Oregon Trail (Apple Arcade Edition) 
  7. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
  8. Game Builder Garage
  9. Psychonauts 2
  10. Demeo

Activity 5

plus symbol

Screen Time Tracking Chart (homework assignment) 

Students work individually. 

Ideally, students will fill out this chart over the course of one week to track their screen time habits.

Bonus Points: see if they can get their guardians to chart their screen time too. 

At the end of the week, discuss as a class.

How do you feel about the amount of time you spent on screens this week?
What type of screen time did you log the most? 

Key Learning: Students will track their own habits and get a deeper understanding of how they use tech.

More discussion questions relating to "Screen Time Tracking Chart": 

Can you recognize signs of gaming addiction? You can find an Internet Addiction Test on our website
How much time during your week do you spend playing video games? On social media?

Lesson Conclusion

Ask students to share anything they learned about their own tech habits. Are they on their screens, more, less or as much as they thought they were? 

Further Reading

For Educators

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Block quote

Ordered list

  1. Item 1
  2. Item 2
  3. Item 3

Unordered list

  • Item A
  • Item B
  • Item C

Text link

Bold text




For Students


CASEL® SEL Competencies

Our Curriculum & Lesson Plans are independently aligned by the Screenagers Team to the CASEL® SEL Competencies Framework.

  • Responsible Decision-making: Learning how to make a reasoned judgement after analyzing info, data and facts
    Demonstrating open-mindedness and curiosity
  • Social-awareness: Taking others' perspectives 
    Demonstrating empathy and compassion
  • Self-awareness: Integrating personal and social identities

AASL Standards Framework for Learners

Our Curriculum & Lesson Plans are also informed by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Standards Framework for Learners. For additional information and resources, including a downloadable format for the Learners Standards Framework, for AASL’s National Standards visit


  • B. CREATE — Using evidence to investigate questions.
    Generating products that illustrate learning.


  • A. THINK — Identifying possible sources of information.


  • A. THINK — Understanding the ethical use of information, technology, and media.
  • C. SHARE — Disseminating new knowledge through means appropriate for the intended audience.


  • B. CREATE — Evaluating a variety of perspectives during learning activities.


  • C. SHARE — Expressing curiosity about a topic of personal interest or curricular relevance.
Related Movie
Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age

Download Lesson

PDF Download