Lesson “Can Too Much Screen Time Harm You?”
First published 2020. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.
It’s no secret that teens spend a lot of time viewing screens. In fact, the average teen spends over seven hours a day on screens for entertainment alone. But science increasingly shows that too much screen time can negatively affect teens’ health. By sharing the article “Can Too Much Screen Time Harm You?” and the activity “Screen Time and Sleep Survey,” you can help students understand how screen time may impact their physical and emotional well-being.
Click below for printables and links to all the lesson materials for “Can Too Much Screen Time Harm You?”
See below to review the lesson plan.
Science Literacy, English Language Arts, Health/Life Skills
|NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS) PRACTICES||NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE SOCIAL STUDIES|
RST.9, GRS. 6–10
* Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
R1.1, GRS. 6–12
* Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
|* Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
* Analyzing and interpreting data
* MS-LS1.D/HS-LS1.D Information Processing
|* 8. Science, Technology, and Society|
READING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Explain why using your phone before bed might make it hard to sleep.
(You may become more alert because you are engaged in your phone. The bright light from the screen can also cause you to feel less sleepy because it reduces the amount of melatonin your body produces. Melatonin is a natural chemical that helps you fall and stay asleep.)
What evidence have scientists collected that suggests a link between screen time and your psychological health?
(Some studies have shown a link between higher amounts of screen time and symptoms of depression; some kids who engage in excessive screen time have reported changes in their mood and behavior such as anxiety when they are away from their phone, neglecting responsibilities, and turning to screens to deal with stress.)
Why do scientists think too much screen time can affect your brain development?
(A study showed that the brains of some kids who engaged in more than seven hours a day of screen time had a thinner cortex [outer layer of the brain] than those of kids who participated in less screen time. The cortex is the part of the brain that processes information and is an area that undergoes significant development during adolescence.)
What are some ways teens can help reduce the impact of screen time on their health?
(Track screen time and set limits each day. Turn off screens 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Schedule time for non-screen-related activities. Keep track of emotions and mood related to screen time and ask for support if needed.)
CRITICAL-THINKING WRITING PROMPTS
- Grades 6–8:
How might spending too much time on screens affect your school performance? Use evidence to support your answer.
- Grades 9–10:
Explain why it is especially important for teens to balance screen time with other activities.
- Grades 11–12:
What are some of the ways excessive exposure to social media might negatively affect a teen’s emotional well-being? What can teens do about this?
“Getting Enough Sleep: The Impossible Dream?”
This paired text explains the importance of sleep and why many teens may be missing out.
Explain why sleep is important and the factors that may prevent teens from getting enough. Use text evidence from “Can Too Much Screen Time Harm You?” and “Getting Enough Sleep: The Impossible Dream?” to support your answer.
Students track their screen time and sleep habits, then analyze the data.