Lesson 5 (60 min) Peer Influences & Social Media


  • Access to internet, smart devices for students

By the end of the lesson, students will…

  • Analyze how peers, social media and perceptions of norms influence how to make healthy food selections and how we are negatively influenced by eating less-nutrient meals;

  • Analyze how peers, social media and perceptions of norms influence violence and violence prevention; and

  • Analyze how peers, social media and perceptions of norms influence unhealthy alcohol- and other drug-related behaviors.

Introductory Activity - 10 min

Explain that this unit has been about analyzing many different influences that encourage students to participate in both positive and negative behaviors. Counteracting negative influences can be a challenge, especially if it means going against the grain, or selecting the decision that might not be the best socially, but personally, is. Ask students to give examples of ways to counteract the peers, social media and perceptions of norms on their eating practices, pro-social health or negative social behaviors and alcohol, tobacco and other drug use behaviors.

Feel free to write these examples somewhere they can visually see these. Some examples they may share may be: holding true to beliefs, finding a peer group that support positive, choosing healthy behaviors, increasing positive self-talk, etc. 

Activity - 45 min.

In about 5-6 groups (depending on class size/time), give students 15 minutes to find a tweet, post or video on the internet that influences either nutrition, pro-social/violence or drug behaviors. It can be a positive or negative influence. Assign groups a specific topic such as: Nutrition and food choices, violence, alcohol, tobacco, bullying and other drugs. 

 Provide the following guidelines:

  • Students have about 15 minutes to find something online.

  • After 15 minutes is up, their group will share the tweet, post, video or meme they found.

  • After they share it, they are expected to report out the following information:

    • Is this a positive or negative influence?

    • Is it internal or external?

    • If negative, how might someone counteract the message?

    • How might someone your age be influenced to participate in the behaviors being shown?

Debrief with each group.

Closure-  5 min.

Introduce the end of unit assessment for Lesson 6. Explain that their assignment will be to create a document that shows photos, images, websites and/or tweets of at least 6 examples of how your peers (teenagers) might be influenced. These sources may be found by doing internet searches for organizations, or looking at social media posts, doing a search using a hashtag, searching for images online, etc. They can be websites, screenshots or descriptions of influences. Make sure you have at least 3 positive influence examples and 3 negative influence examples. When you submit your document (printed copy), make sure to describe each of the 6 examples and if they demonstrate an internal or external influence and whether that example is positive or negative. Content may include eating habits/nutrition, pro-social behaviors or violence and/or alcohol, tobacco or other drug use, but one of each must be included in your 6 examples.

Students may want to begin researching these examples on their own prior to class. They may have better access to internet/technology outside of the classroom. If appropriate, share the assessment prompt with them during this lesson in preparation.