PSHE lesson: is social media bad for your health?

Download and adapt this lesson plan around the use of social media to stimulate discussion, reflection and critical thinking

Author details

Luke Ramsden is senior deputy headmaster and senior safeguarding lead at St Benedict’s School in Ealing. He started...

Many people spend a huge amount of their time on their mobile phone or computer, and it is unsurprising that a lot of our communication has therefore moved from ‘real life’ to the online world of social media. This trend has only been hastened by lockdowns, meaning that we have only been able to communicate virtually with family and friends for weeks and months at a time.

Being able to communicate with anybody else in the world at the touch of a button is undoubtedly useful and a positive benefit (especially in a global pandemic).

At the same time, some people feel that social media also brings many problems both in its individual impact on mental health and the wider social impact of social media algorithms that are designed to ensure users stay online by any means necessary.

Lesson objectives

The purpose of this lesson is to equip pupils with understanding and tools to help in managing their use of social media. The lesson is planned in three phases.

  1. Explore and understand how social media is used by young people.
  2. Evaluate the positives and negatives of social media use.
  3. Generate recommended guidelines for good use of social media.

Getting started

As ever in PSHE it is good to get the thoughts of your students at the start of the lesson. The PowerPoint suggests using two main questions:

  • What social media do you use and how do you use it?
  • How much social media do you use each day?

If students are allowed to have their phones with them and get them out with your permission, they can check to see which of their apps they use most frequently and how much screen time they are spending. 

  • Are any of the students surprised at how much time they spend on their phones?
  • How many feel they should cut down on their screen time or social media use?

Ideas for further questions and activities

The PowerPoint for this lesson has a number of discussion points and links to relevant video clips built into it. It’s unlikely that you would be able to cover all of these in one lesson, so check through in advance and consider which ones will be most appropriate for your class and lesson timing. You could also ask the students what they want to focus on.

An area for further exploration could be around how different social media platforms work. Are some better than others at looking after their users?

You could encourage students to look at the ‘terms of use’ for different platforms, for example Instagram.

Be aware that students of different age groups may be using different platforms. It’s worth reminding yourself before the lesson what the age restrictions are for different types of social media.

Follow up activities to help evaluate the learning from this lesson

You might want to start your next PSHE lesson by testing the students on their recall of some of the problems or benefits of social media. You could create an online quiz using something like Kahoot.

For a longer homework task, you could ask the students to keep a log of their social media use for a week.

  • Does this reveal anything surprising about their use of social media?
  • Did the process of noting down how much they were using social media each day make them use it less?
Last Updated: 
19 Nov 2020