Question: I am looking for an evidence-based curriculum to teach in a middle school setting for screen time and sleep. I appreciate any suggestions you may have.


Answer: When teens struggle to find balance around digital media use, it can negatively impact their sleep. Adequate sleep is an important part of mental well-being and brain development for adolescents, so it is important to support adolescents in using digital media in ways that won’t negatively impact their sleep.

In research studies, when asked about social media use at bedtime, teens shared social motivations such as fear of missing out, feeling obligated to engage in online groups and conversations regardless of the time of day, and feeling guilty when not responding immediately to messages among the top reasons for why they are on at night despite having an awareness that delaying bedtime could cause tiredness the next day or cause interference with other priorities like homework. They also shared skepticism around the helpfulness of self-imposed restrictions like “do not disturb” settings. Given these experiences, we recommend introducing evidence-based curriculums that focus on balance, technology use and well-being at school as well as providing parents and caregivers with tips to support healthy digital media use at home.

Resources for Educators

  • Teens & Tech has a free curriculum for middle school educators on how adolescent brain development affects technology use and well-being. 
    • There are 6 modules, and module #5 titled “Sleep and Technology” focuses specifically on digital media and sleep.
    • The three lessons in the Sleep & Technology module focus on the importance of sleep, adolescent sleep needs and technology use before bed.
    • This curriculum was developed by the Winston National Center on Technology Use, Brain, and Psychological Development.
    • Teens & Tech also features “Teens Teaching Teens”, which is a series of videos created by undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Three of the videos focus on screen use and sleep (scroll down to view). 
  • Common Sense Education has a comprehensive digital citizenship curriculum for each grade level, including middle school. 
    • The Digital Citizenship Curriculum includes a unit on media balance & well-being. For the middle school grades (6-8), this unit emphasizes setting goals around healthy, balanced media use. This unit could be helpful in discussing goals and boundaries around digital media use and sleep.
    • In addition to media balance & well-being, other units include privacy & security, digital footprint, relationships & communication, cyberbullying and news & media literacy.
    • The Digital Citizenship Curriculum includes lesson plans, student hand-outs, interactive activities, videos, games and a chart illustrating how the curriculum fits within Common Core standards. Common Sense suggests 5 instructional models for how this curriculum can be taught in schools. 
  • Media Power Youth has a curriculum called Screenshots, which is a media literacy curriculum for grades 6-8. 
    • This curriculum includes lesson plans, podcasts, a project and an interactive notebook.
    • The curriculum focuses on thinking critically about social media messages, managing online conflict, exploring how digital media relates to substance use, and practicing empathy when navigating online challenges. This curriculum does not focus on sleep specifically.

Resources to Recommend to Parents & Caregivers

  • Screen Sanity has a tool called the Social Media Playbook, which is a guide for caregivers and their children to navigate and discuss social media together. 
    • Screen Sanity has companion workbooks for parents of preschoolers, elementary schoolers, and middle schoolers that go along with the Social Media Playbook. Here’s the link to the workbook for middle school parents. 


  • Screen Sanity also has a tool called the Screen Sanity Group Study, which is a set of six video-guided sessions and workbook designed for group study settings. This tool would be ideal for parents who want to meet and discuss digital media use in a study group together. 
  • AAP’s Family Media Plan: The AAP’s Family Media Plan is a tool that families can use to set media priorities and boundaries that include healthy sleep habits around digital media. 



Age: 11-14, early adolescence, middle adolescence, middle school

Topics: Sleep, screen time, social media

Role: Educator

Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics