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UNIT 2: Our Online Worlds


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Themes & Ideas


Social Media

Online Safety

Online Identities


Mental Wellness

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


Empathy — the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others.

Addictive Behavior — the urge to do something that is hard to control or stop, even when it’s harmful.  

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.

Prosocial — relating to behavior that is positive, helpful and intended to help or support others.

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.
Do you remember anyone in the film who explained using social media to connect to friends and family in a positive way?
Do you remember anyone in the film who had a more negative experience with social media? 
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

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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 with friends and family.
  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 students 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 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?": 

Potentially risky choices
Social media can be a fun way to connect with friends and family, but it also presents some risks. Sometimes, people can be mean. Other times we can make choices to send messages or pictures that we shouldn't have. It's important to be aware of online risks, whether it's online harassment or digital privacy.

Do you think you speak to people the same online and in person?
If you have social media, what do you like about it? What do you not like about it?

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."

Digital footprint

How private and how permanent are the things that we post online? 

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. 

Social tech usage realities

How much time do you think you spend online in a week?

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 2

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Sorting Apps (20 mins)

Students work collaboratively.

Students will sort the following apps into three categories: SOCIAL MEDIA, VIDEO GAME or OTHER (make sure they specify what "other" means).

  1. Google Docs
  2. Roblox
  3. Instagram
  4. Snapchat
  5. Discord
  6. Google Chrome
  7. Minecraft
  8. TikTok
  9. PS4
  10. Twitter
  11. Kahoot!
  12. Pinterest
  13. FaceTime
  14. Safari

Key Learning: Students get to collaborate and reconsider their previous assumptions.

More topics, discussion questions and movie clips relating to "Sorting Apps": 

Video game addiction

In the clip to the right, 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 heard of video game addiction before? 
Did Andrew’s story surprise you? 

In this clip, Andrew explains how his video game addiction kept him from getting really good at piano, since he spent all of his time in front of a screen and stopped practicing his instrument.

Do you have a hobby or skill that you really love like Andrew did with piano? How would you feel if your time online took over and you stopped doing that activity? 

Violent video games

Child development researcher Dimitri Christakis, MD explains in this clip that everything we read, watch or listen to teaches us something.

If you’re someone who plays video games, what do you think the games you play teach you? 

In this clip, Christakis says that violent video games decrease our empathy. Meaning when we see violence over and over again, we become less sensitive to it and real-life violence will not upset us as much as it did.

Can you recognize signs of gaming addiction? You can find an Internet Addiction Test on our website

Activity 3

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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.

More topics and discussion questions relating to "What are Prosocial Games?": 

Prosocial games

Some studies suggest a correlation between prosocial gaming and prosocial behaviors. 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
Have you ever played a game focused on helping others? If so, what did you think of it? 

Activity 4

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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.

Activity 5

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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

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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

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