Social Media Lesson: Social Media Stress in Teens

While I do my stress management unit with my 7th graders, one thing always pops up as a stressor: social media. My students talk about everything from feeling like to need to buy cooler things to feeling like they need to look differently after comparing themselves to their peers and to celebrities online. Ironically, I got an idea for a lesson while scrolling Instagram. Social media can be awesome too, after all. If social media is a stressor for your students, keep reading to find the social media lesson that was a huge hit with my middle school students!

Is social media a stressor for your students? Try this social media lesson to help teens think about how to use social media in stress-free ways.

Social Media Lesson: Social Media Stress in Teens

Warm Up:

To kick things off, I had my students work with a partner to talk about this: how might social media affect your mental and emotional health? There were some really insightful thoughts that came from this activity:

  • Can social media have positive and negative influences?
  • If you don’t use social media, can it still affect your mental health?
  • Can you get addicted to social media?

Ted Talk:

After this discussion, we watched a TedTalk about exactly this. Many of the students’ questions were answered by this talk!

Afterward, we talked about highlight reels and social currency. This really resonated with my students, as they said they often deleted pictures that didn’t get enough likes or felt the need to constantly check how many likes they get.

At this point, I had a few students who shared that they had actually deleted certain social media apps and talked about how they felt better. Others chimed in to say that they just unfollow accounts that make them feel bad about themselves. Some students said they could never delete apps or unfollow people for fear of being left out or making others upset. I was happy to sit back and let them take the lead on this discussion and it was a really productive talk! But at the end we arrived at one question: how can teens use social media in a way that doesn’t cause unnecessary stress?

Is social media a stressor for your students? Try this social media lesson to help teens think about how to use social media in stress-free ways.

Instagram Inspiration

You might remember I mentioned that my inspiration for this lesson came from Instagram. One of my favorite accounts to follow is Positively Present by Dani DiPirro. She’s an artist who posts encouraging, inspiration, and funny illustrations that I always find myself saving. She created an illustration of “apps I need on my phone,” and I knew this would be the perfect thing to show my students.

Creative Activity:

Then, I challenged my students to create their own phone apps to describe things that create happiness in their lives instead of stress. There were some really insightful responses like hugs from parents, puppy snuggles, time with a book, and more. I won’t post any of the students’ work here, but I will share the exemplar I made to show them:

Try it:

Is social media a stressor for your students? This activity was loose and mostly student-led, which is what I loved about it! You can download the free outline and handout for the social media lesson here. It was a great way to get those students who do experience social media-related stress to think about alternative activities where they can put their attention.

Is social media a stressor for your students? Try this social media lesson to help teens think about how to use social media in stress-free ways. This social media activity is perfect for upper elementary school counseling classroom guidance lessons or middle school counseling classroom guidance lessons. -Counselor Keri
Is social media a stressor for your students? Try this social media lesson to help teens think about how to use social media in stress-free ways. This social media activity is perfect for upper elementary school counseling classroom guidance lessons or middle school counseling classroom guidance lessons. -Counselor Keri

One thought on “Social Media Lesson: Social Media Stress in Teens

  1. Love this lesson plan. I think I’ll offer it to my gr. 6/7/8 classes at the beginning of next school year!

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