Teenager Too Long in the Shower? Try Facebook.

If you’re the parent of a teen, you’ve been hearing a lot about the enormous amount of time kids are spending with social media. One study estimates that teens are spending an average of one hour and 50 minutes per day, on social media alone. Now EPA’s Energy Star has teamed up with virtual world Meez and non-profit DoSomething.org to leverage the power of that trend. The result: a Facebook social game called eMission that encourages teens to take offline actions to help save energy and reduce their carbon footprint.

Here’s how it works. Online, players build and maintain coastal wildlife habitat for animals like sea lions, pelicans, and bald eagles. But progressing in the online portion – advancing to higher levels and unlocking rewards – requires concrete, offline actions. That means taking shorter showers, changing to energy efficient light bulbs, or powering down computers when not in use. More ambitious and advanced players will receive points for starting a school recycling program.

Players verify their energy-saving actions through friend’s testimonials and photographic evidence. Carbon savings are verified by Energy Star. Players could win one of five $2000 scholarships for their energy efficiency efforts.

Sophia Bush of the TV series "One Tree Hill" is eMission’s hip, young spokesperson, who ribs, “That’s way better than making a fake farm, or pretending to be in the Mafia, right?”