Students reflect on their own use of technology, becoming aware of the positive and the negative impacts of technology in their lives. Students will become aware of their assumptions about technology and will be given resources to reconsider or reinforce those assumptions.
Students will engage in a short discussion to surface some of their initial beliefs about the technology present in their day to day lives.
Students will then watch the classroom version of Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, (46 mins), a film that examines the impact of technology — in particular social media, video games and the internet — on their academic, personal and family lives.
Post viewing, educators can choose to:
Students will be able to:
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.
Runtime: 46 minutes
Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span?
Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston saw that with her own kids and learned that the average kid spends many hours a day looking at screens. She wondered about the impact of all this time and about the friction occurring in homes and schools around negotiating screen time — friction she knew all too well.
In Screenagers, Delaney takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction.
Through poignant and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, Screenagers reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how kids can be empowered to best navigate the digital world and find balance.
The first Screenagers film is about how the digital age impacts the physical and mental wellbeing, learning and relationships of adolescents. The film aims to help teens and families minimize the harmful impacts of technology, find creative ways to utilize technology and help each other find balance between their online and in-person lives. It covers brain development, how school districts are using tech, video game addiction, the pressures of social media and creative ways to use and manage our devices.
The film includes stories from parents, teens and teachers and showcases the work of researchers who study technological impacts on the adolescent brain and social life. It combines personal stories with scientific data to provide viewers with a well-rounded impression of our digital age and some evidence-based solutions to tech-related issues.
Explain to the students that today, you will be discussing the impact of technology and devices in our everyday lives and watching a film that explores this subject.
Begin the lesson by hosting some general discussion questions with students about technology in their day-to-day lives, aiming to surface the beliefs and attitudes of students.
Invite students to share their answers to the class. Educator makes notes on the board.
What, if any, games, apps and websites do you use? Which are your favorites?
How much of an impact do you think technology has on your friendships or family?
Do you feel content with the way you currently use technology?
Have your students fill out this SURVEY before the screening. They will revisit it after the screening to see if any of their answers have changed.
"We are going to watch a film about this called Screenagers." Why do you think the filmmaker chose this title? What predictions do you have about what will be in the film? Make notes on the whiteboard for review.
Tell students to be sure to take notes — either on their own or using the note-taking guide we provide — during the screening. There will be a discussion after the screening, so writing down data and scenes that stick out to them will be important.
Make note of:
Engage the students in a short discussion of the film they have just watched, asking them to refer to their notes.
Begin with asking students...
Share some general thoughts. Did you like the film? Did you find it entertaining? Did you dislike it? Why?
Do you think you learned anything you didn’t know before watching the film?
Share some of the characters, scenes, themes and data you wrote down.
Did the film make you think about your own screen time habits? Do you see your technology habits changing at all? Why or why not?
The class should go back to the survey they filled out at the beginning of class and re-rank the activities in the second column. Ask students if any of the ratings changed. Encourage those who changed some of their ratings to explain why they did so.
Key Learning: The most powerful ally students have in developing good habits and being able to self-regulate is themself. They must learn to generate ideas and make more considerate choices for their own happiness and wellbeing.
Ask students write a letter to one of the young people, parents or experts in the film whose words or experiences meant something to them. The letter might address one or more of the following questions:
Key Learning: They can demonstrate the ability to empathize with the experience of others and relate to them. Where else in their school, social or family lives may this ability be helpful to them?
Using the information they learned from Screenagers, along with any additional research (e.g. online research, school library), students will work together to create a mockup for a digital campaign on one of the following subjects:
b) Screen addiction
c) Digital citizenship
Advise students that the campaigns are meant to be informative for people around their own age. Students should consider the following questions when working on their campaigns:
Students can create the actual campaign if they want to, but a mockup is also fine. They should incorporate statistics from the film and their own research. They might also be interested in including drawings or pictures to capture attention and convey information, and they should use clear and concise wording, so their message is understood.
Key Learning: Students demonstrate they are capable of building upon what they have learned in the film and think about how it applies to the world and people around them.
Summarize and conclude the lesson by highlighting some of the key ideas that came out of the discussions (particularly if attitudes and ideas changed significantly after viewing the film).
Remember to highlight that technology can be a great positive in our lives but it is important for us all to be mindful of the potential challenges it can bring forth.
Remind students that they have just proved that they can generate ideas for self-regulating when it comes to technology. This is particularly helpful if they feel that they struggle with self-regulating in their own life.
Ask students to reflect and think upon...
What sort of relationship would you like to have with your technology and devices in the future? What can you do to better achieve this balance for yourself?
How you ensure that the technology in your life is making your relationships better and not worse?
What small and manageable changes would you consider making in the future as a result of learning more about this subject?
Our Curriculum & Lesson Plans are independently aligned by the Screenagers Team to the CASEL® SEL Competencies Framework.
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 standards.aasl.org.