Persuasive Design Lesson

Persuasive Design Lesson

Lesson Aim:

To raise awareness of the amount of time we spend on our digital devices and consider alternative ways to spend our time.

Develop an understanding of how a technique called persuasive design entices us to use our devices.



Lesson Duration:

1 lesson: 40 minutes to 1 hour

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  • Statements of learning links:

    11. Takes action to safeguard and promote her/his wellbeing and that of others

    15. Recognises the potential uses of mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding in all areas of learning

    16. Describes, illustrates, interprets, predicts and explains patterns and relationships

    24. Uses technology and digital media tools to learn, communicate, work and think collaboratively and creatively in a responsible and ethical matter

  • Curriculum links:

    Digital Media Literacy Short Course

    Strand 1: My digital life

    1.1 describe how they use digital technologies, communication tools and the internet in their lives

    1.2 illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of using digital technologies, communication tools and the internet


    Strand 2: Following my interests online

    2.7 represent information about a topic that is relevant to their lives in graphic format

  • Junior Cycle Key Skills:

    Staying well: 

    Being responsible, safe and ethical in using digital technology


    Managing myself: 

    Making considered decisions

    Setting and achieving personal goals

    Using digital technology to manage and myself and my learning 



    Using numbers 


    Working with others:

    Working with others through digital technology

    Learning with others


    Being Creative:

    Implementing ideas and taking action

    Stimulating creativity using digital technology


    Being Numerate:

    Expressing ideas mathematically

    Estimating, predicting and calculating

    Seeing patterns, trends and relationships

    Gathering interpreting and representing data


    Managing information and thinking:

    Gathering, recording, organising and evaluating information and data

  • Embedding digital technologies:

    Schools with access to digital devices (e.g. tablets, laptops, phone) can capture students’ responses to using a variety of web-based tools, e.g. school’s learning platform, Mentimeter, Forms, etc.

  • Lesson - Step 1.

    Explain that this activity will look at how we spend our time on our digital devices and the reasons why many of us will feel that we may spend too much time on our smartphones and other devices. Explain that we will be examining our own behaviour, exploring our attitudes to digital wellbeing, and developing an understanding of how a technique called persuasive design entices us to use our devices more than may be necessary/to an extent that may be harmful to our wellbeing. 


    Ask students to estimate how much time they spend on their devices each day and which apps/websites they spend the most time on. (record this information)

  • Lesson - Step 2.

    Ask students to review their screen time using the digital wellbeing/screen time tool on their device and record the following information (teachers could also take part in this process):


        – Screen time for today and the last 7 days

        – Unlock frequency

        – Top 5 most used apps (record this information on the “My digital Balance Check-in” activity sheet)


    Use a student response system (i.e. Mentimeter, Forms, etc.) to gather the results and to discuss how students feel about their calculations.


    Using the last 7 days’ data as an average, ask students to calculate how long they would spend on those apps for one month, six months and one year. 


    Questions to consider are:

       – Were you surprised by the amount of screen time or unlock frequency?

       – Do you feel your time is well spent on your 5 most used apps?

       – Which apps/games make you feel good after you use them? Which apps/games make you feel bad after you use them?


    Students can do a similar review of their gaming devices.

  • Lesson - Step 3.

    Show students the video explaining the concept of persuasive design at the following link: 

    While watching the video, ask students to consider what design features they recognise that  draw them to use their favourite apps.

  • Lesson - Step 4.

    Challenge: As a class or in smaller groups get the students to commit to a 1 week challenge. 


    Depending on their device students can:


    • Limit screen time
    • Set up app usage limits 
    • Schedule away time from device


    Perhaps students could limit time spent on their “top 5 apps”.

    Brainstorm ideas of how they could better spend the time that they have now freed up from reduced use of apps.

    Once students have completed the 1 week challenge they can complete the 2nd “My Digital Balance” activity sheet for comparison.


My digital balance check in activity sheet
Step 2: My Digital Balance Check In Activity Sheet
My digital balance check in activity sheet
Step 4: My Digital Balance Check In Activity Sheet

Connected Resource

Connected has been specifically designed for teachers of the Junior Cycle Digital Media Literacy Short Course who wish to explore Online Wellbeing; News, Information and Problems of False Information; Big Data and the Data Economy; and My Rights Online.


Connected aims to empower young people to be effective, autonomous and safe users of technology and online media.

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