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Adolescent Development Toolkit

Digital Citizenship Curricula

Digital Citizenship
This K-12 curriculum includes lesson plans, student digital interactives, and assessments, as well as professional development for teachers and materials for family education. Common Sense Education.

Be Internet Awesome
This curriculum gives educators the tools they need to teach digital safety and citizenship fundamentals. Google and iKeepSafe.

Google Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum
This middle school classroom curriculum can be used to teach what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. Google and iKeepSafe.

Digital Literacy Library
Find lesson plans to help young people develop skills needed to navigate the digital world, critically consume information, and responsibly produce and share content. Facebook and Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

Toolkit: Teens and Media

While there is a great deal of public concern over negative effects of engaging in social media, research shows the balance of negative and positive effects to be individualized and nuanced [1, 2, 3, 4]. Digital communication offers young people platforms through which they can explore domains of development and relationships in ways that can both nurture and harm their well-being [3, 4, 5]. For example, using social media can help adolescents develop a positive social self-concept, increase their sense of belonging, and improve connection with family and friends, but it can also drive alienation from peers and increase aggressiveness and conflict [1].

Adolescents are early adapters of new technology. How are teens using new technologies and social media? How can they learn to use social media safely and ethically? And how can adults use new technologies to engage adolescents?

Trends and Statistics

Demographics: Internet and Social Media

Updated regularly, this web page highlights selected statistics on adolescents' use of digital media. ACT for Youth.


The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2021

This large-scale study explores how kids age 8 to 18 in the U.S. use media across an array of activities and devices to see where they spend their time and what they enjoy most. Common Sense Media.


18 Social Media Apps and Sites Kids Are Using Right Now

This 2019 article describes social media apps and websites that are popular with teens. Common Sense Media.


Digital Media, Youth Development, and Health

The Pros and Cons of Social Media for Youth

This post on the Evidence-Based Living blog summarizes a 2021 review of research on how social media affects well-being in youth. Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and Psychology Today.

Research Summary

Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S.

This report presents findings from a nationally representative survey of teens and young adults conducted in 2018. The report covers two main topics: 1) young people’s use of online health information and digital health tools, and 2) the associations between social media use and mental well-being among youth. Hopelab and Well Being Trust.


Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences

This national survey illustrates what teens think and feel about the challenges and benefits of social media, especially with respect to friendships and peer groups. Pew Research Center.


New Global Kids Online Findings

Much attention is focused on the potential risks for children using the internet, but recent research stresses how important it is that children spend time online in order to learn how to navigate these risks and make the most of the opportunities offered.

Blog Post

TECHsex: Youth Sexuality and Health Online

For this 2017 study, researchers conducted a national survey and focus groups in seven cities to explore the relationships between technology, youth, and sexual health. YTH.


PYD 101: Youth and Technology

This free, on-demand short course describes key features of the internet, implications for online behavior, and the impact of social media on adolescent well-being and development. Registration required. ACT for Youth and the Cornell Social Media Lab.

Online Course

Digital Safety and Citizenship

See sidebar for Digital Citizenship curricula.

Social Media TestDrive

Social Media TestDrive lets young people practice digital citizenship skills in a simulated, realistic social media environment. This interactive educational platform was created by the Cornell University Social Media Lab in collaboration with Common Sense Education.


Getting Kids to Take Online Safety Seriously

When internet safety is contextualized and personalized and provides students with an opportunity to create, apply, or synthesize higher-level ideas, the learning is far more profound than when the information is delivered by lecture. Edutopia.

Article, Tips

Connect Safely is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety, privacy, and security. This website provides research-based safety tips, parents' guidebooks, advice, news, and commentary on all aspects of tech use and policy.

Tips, Guides, Advice

Common Sense Media

The extensive resources offered on this website are designed to provide information, advice, and tools to help parents, educators, and policymakers "harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids' lives."

Tools, Guides, Reviews


This comprehensive site offers digital literacy and online safety resources for both parents and educators.

Videos, eBooks, Tips, Games, Courses Cyberbullying

This section of a U.S. government website on bullying describes cyberbullying tactics and provides tips.

Web Pages


Internet safety and digital citizenship resources provided here include online training, presentations, videos, and other teaching materials. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Teaching Materials

Media and Digital Literacy

Practice Matters: Media Literacy

What is media literacy and why is it important for youth? Andrew Smiler explores the issue in this article. ACT for Youth.


Use, Understand, and Create: A Digital Literacy Framework

What exactly is digital literacy, and how can we ensure that students are learning the digital skills they need? The Digital Literacy Framework offered here classifies competencies for digital literacy according to three principles: use, understand, and create. Media Smarts.

Framework, Lesson Plans

Center for Media Literacy

This website contains abundant resources for promoting media literacy education.


Project Look Sharp

Project Look Sharp is a media literacy initiative of Ithaca College that develops lesson plans, media materials, training, and support for the integration of media literacy with critical thinking into curricula.

Education Resources

Incorporating Tech into Programming

Afterschool Tech Toolkit

Youth programs have a role to play in eliminating persistent digital inequities. This toolkit offers resources and strategies to enhance afterschool programming with digital learning experiences. National AfterSchool Association.


Afterschool and STEM Learning

Afterschool programs play a major role in providing meaningful science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning experiences to youth. This collection of resources includes curriculum and activities, program profiles, funding ideas, publications, and webinars. Afterschool Alliance.

Resource Collection

MIT App Inventor

MIT App Inventor is a beginner's introduction to programming and app creation that transforms coding language into visual, drag-and-drop building blocks. The project seeks to democratize software development by empowering all people, especially young people, to transition from being consumers of technology to becoming creators of it.

Tech Project

Scratch for Educators

Scratch is a programming language and online community where youth can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation. Educators use Scratch in a variety of school and community settings for a range of grade levels. The Creative Computing Curriculum Guide provides plans and activities. MIT Media Lab.

Guides, Tutorials, Curriculum


[1]   Dredge, R., & Schreurs, L. (2020). Social media use and offline interpersonal outcomes during youth: A systematic literature review. Mass Communication and Society, 23(6), 885–911.
[2]   Orben, A., Dienlin, T., & Przybylski, A. K. (2019). Social media’s enduring effect on adolescent life satisfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[3]   Shankleman, M., Hammond, L., & Jones, F. W. (2021). Adolescent social media use and well-being: A systematic review and thematic meta-synthesis. Adolescent Research Review.
[4]   Smith, D., Leonis, T., & Anandavalli, S. (2021). Belonging and loneliness in cyberspace: Impacts of social media on adolescents’ well-being. Australian Journal of Psychology, 73(1), 12–23.
[5]   Ehrenreich, S. E., George, M. J., Burnell, K., & Underwood, M. K. (2021). Importance of digital communication in adolescents’ development: Theoretical and empirical advancements in the last decade. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 31(4), 928–943.
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