3 Resources About Phone Addiction

By Lauren Salisbury
September 18, 2018

The paired texts in the October 2018 issue of Scope are sure to spark some lively classroom discussions. Two nonfiction texts—“Are Phones Making Us Zombies?” and “Should Your Parents Control Your Phone?”—explore the problem of excessive screen time and what can be done about it. After reading both articles, explore the resources below to continue the conversation about our relationships with smartphones.

Guiding Questions
Post these questions in your classroom for students to refer to as they explore the resources:

  • How do smartphones shape the way we live?
  • What does it mean to have a healthy relationship with technology?
  • Whose responsibility is it to make sure kids have a healthy relationship with technology?
3 fantastic resources to keep the learning going:

Video: PBS News Hour segment: “Your phone is trying to control your life” 

As a class, watch this interview (8:43) with Tristan Harris, former Google employee and founder of the organization “Time Well Spent.”


  • According to Harris, how are tech companies warring for our time and attention?
  • What screen time management strategies from Carro’s articles does Tristan find effective?
PBS Newshour

Press Release: “iOS 12 introduces new features to reduce interruptions and manage Screen Time

In pairs or small groups, read this press release from Apple that details its new Screen Time tools.


  • If you used Screen Time, what data would you be most interested in collecting about your own screen usage?
  • What apps do you think you use the most each day? On average, how long do you think you use them?
  • How many times a day do you pick up your phone?


As a class, study the image and text of this cartoon.

  • What topic does this cartoon address? 
  • What is the message of this cartoon? 
  • What is the cartoonist’s point of view about our relationships with smartphones?
  • How does the cartoonist's point of view relate to Carro’s articles?

4 engaging differentiated activities to chose from:

Drawing on ideas from both articles and the resources above, choose one of the following activities.


For struggling readers:
In a well-organized paragraph, explain two dangers of smartphone addiction and two ways to help solve the problem.


For advanced readers:
Write an essay about what we, as a society should do about smartphone addiction. Draw on the paired texts to explain what the problem is and what solutions currently exist. Then explain what else, if anything, you think should be done.


For future psychologists:
Conduct interviews and/or survey kids at your school about their phone habits and how their phones affect them. Then present your findings. Use video or other visuals in your presentation.


For comics fans:
Create a comic about “smartphone zombies.” It should be at least one page long and should incorporate information about smartphone addiction. Optionally, using the cartoon featured above as a model, create a cartoon with your own point of view about teens’ relationships with smartphones.


For health advocates:
Make a public service announcement (PSA) about the dangers of smartphone addiction and how kids can have a healthy relationship with their devices. Your PSA can be a short video, a poster, or a slideshow.

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