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Lesson Plans

Lesson plan: Are teens addicted to technology?

June 4, 2016

Full Lesson


What roles do social media and technology play in teens’ lives? Is it possible that teens are addicted to their phones? In this lesson plan, students will respond to PBS NewsHour’s Brief but Spectacular episode, “Teens on Tech.” 


Social studies, history, government

Estimated Time

One 50-minute class

Grade Level



As a warm-up, use this interactive Kahoot survey to gauge the role of technology in students’ everyday lives. The teacher should go here on his or her computer and select the “Player vs. Player” mode. Each student will require a smartphone, laptop or computer and should go to the Kahoot website and enter the Game PIN that will appear on the teacher’s screen. It is the teacher’s responsibility to click to the next question once each student has answered.

Watch the following PBS NewsHour video story about the documentary ‘Screenagers’ which explores the complex lives teenagers have with their phones as well as their friends. Ask your students what part of the clip resonated with them? Were there parts they agreed with? Disagreed with? 

Watch the PBS NewsHour’s Brief but Spectacular episode “Teens on Tech” below. One student said that she “could not imagine a world without technology.” Do you agree or disagree? Why? Discuss as a class.

  1. Click here to read a PBS NewsHour Teachers’ Lounge article entitled ‘Students are addicted to their cellphones, and they need our help.’ The author stated that “cellphones have become the modern security blanket.” Do you agree or disagree? How, if at all, does the generational gap between the teacher and his students play a role in his assessment of their technology use? Discuss as a class.
  2. Using evidence from the Brief but Spectacular video and the Teachers’ Lounge article, write a short paragraph answering the following questions: Are students addicted to their cell phones? If so, is that a problem?

Extension Activities

  • Students should create their own Brief but Spectacular video interviewing their peers about technology use. Do their peers’ views differ from those in the video linked above?
  • Have students download the Moment app, which tracks cell phone usage, and use their phone normally for several days. Are students surprised by the amount of time that they actually spend on their phones? Why? Will this information change their future behavior? Discuss as a class.
  • Read the following New York Times article: ‘Addicted to Distraction.’ How has technology affected users’ concentration and productivity? Is a “technology detox” feasible in today’s society? Would you be willing to try one? Discuss as a class.

Amanda Wilcox is a senior at T.C. Williams High School. She will attend Wake Forest University in the fall.

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Media literacy education

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