Screening and Class Discussion


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Themes & Ideas





Social Media

Video Games

What Students Will Uncover

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.

Lesson Overview

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:

  • Lead class with this lesson plan, hosting a discussion and facilitating short activities covering all the main themes of the film. This guide particularly explores how student perspectives may have changed following the viewing


  • Host a brief discussion using this overview guide and then switch into our more in-depth lesson plans that dive deeper into particular themes from the film.

Lesson Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Identify both the positive and negative impacts of the tech in their lives
  • Reflect on their own use of technology in school, at home and in their social lives — thinking about how it impacts their relationships with those around them
  • Compare their own experiences with those of the subjects in the film, utilizing empathy and understanding



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

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 Film in Context

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.


Lesson Introduction

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.

Pre-Screening Questions

Invite students to share answers with the class. Educator makes notes on the board.

  1. What, if any, games, apps and websites do you use? Which are your favorites? Are there any that you are restricted from by parents / guardians? Why do you think they are restricted?
  2. How much of an impact do you think technology has on your friendships or family?
  3. Is there anything about the technology you use, or the way you use it in your day-to-day life that makes you feel unhappy or you think could be unhealthy for you?

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.

Before The Movie

"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.

Ask students to consider the following questions while watching the film. Write them on the board so that students can see them throughout the screening and encourage them to use the note-taking guide provided in this lesson.

Do you recognize yourself or anyone you know in any of the subjects of the film? Why? 
Is there any new data you learned that might change your habits? 

Play The Film

Play Film Not available in preview

Lesson Activities

Post-Viewing Discussion

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...

What did you learn from watching the film?
What moments from the film were most memorable or powerful to you?
Where in the film did you see your own screen time habits? 
If you do plan to change any technology habits, do you have any ideas of ways to go about that?

Activity 1

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Reviewing and re-ranking tech activities (10 minutes)

  1. Have each student revisit the ratings they wrote down in their pre and post-screening survey.
  2. They should write any new ratings in the second column.
  3. Ask students to share what activities they changed their ratings on and why they had this change of heart.

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.

Activity 2

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Letter writing activity (25-30 mins / homework activity)

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:

  • What does their experience mean to you?
  • Do you have any questions for them? 
  • What would you like them to know about you or your experience?

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?

Activity 3

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Poster creation activity (30-45 mins / homework activity)

Using the information they learned from Screenagers, along with any additional research (i.e., online research, school library, etc), students will work together to create a mental health awareness poster, which can take a physical form or a digital form, on one of the following subjects:

a) Self-control
b) Screen addiction
c) Digital citizenship

Advise students that the posters are meant to be informative for people around their own age. Students should consider the following questions when working on their posters:

  1. What is the definition of your key concept?
  2. Why is your key concept important for young people to learn about?
  3. In order to stay mentally and physically healthy, what do others need to know about your key concept?

Share some of these examples to get them started if needed.

  • Social Media: "Social Media is a great way to stay in touch with friends... but don't forget to spend time together in person."
  • Video Games: "Fortnite all night? Get some sleep and build your grades up, not your defenses."
  • Smartphones and Sleep: "Want to be SMART? Leave the PHONE outside your room at bedtime."

Students 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.

Activity 4

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Activity 5

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Lesson Conclusion

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 do 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? 

Further Reading

For Educators

For Students


CASEL® SEL Competencies

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

  • Self-awareness: Growth mindset.
  • Social-awareness: Demonstrating empathy and compassion.
    Taking others' perspectives.
  • Self Management: Courage to take initiative.
  • Responsible Decision-making: Anticipating and evaluating the consequences of one’s actions.

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 — Generating products that illustrate learning.
  • C. SHARE — Sharing products with an authentic audience.
  • D. GROW — Enacting new understanding through real-world connections.
Related Movie
Screenagers: Growing Up In The Digital Age

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