Digital habits across generations

Digital habits across generations

Read an article about how people at different ages use computers and smartphones to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.


Reading text

Today's grandparents are joining their grandchildren on social media, but the different generations' online habits couldn't be more different. In the UK the over-55s are joining Facebook in increasing numbers, meaning that they will soon be the site's second biggest user group, with 3.5 million users aged 55–64 and 2.9 million over-65s.

Sheila, aged 59, says, 'I joined to see what my grandchildren are doing, as my daughter posts videos and photos of them. It's a much better way to see what they're doing than waiting for letters and photos in the post. That's how we did it when I was a child, but I think I'm lucky I get to see so much more of their lives than my grandparents did.'

Ironically, Sheila's grandchildren are less likely to use Facebook themselves. Children under 17 in the UK are leaving the site – only 2.2 million users are under 17 – but they're not going far from their smartphones. Chloe, aged 15, even sleeps with her phone. 'It's my alarm clock so I have to,' she says. 'I look at it before I go to sleep and as soon as I wake up.'

Unlike her grandmother's generation, Chloe's age group is spending so much time on their phones at home that they are missing out on spending time with their friends in real life. Sheila, on the other hand, has made contact with old friends from school she hasn't heard from in forty years. 'We use Facebook to arrange to meet all over the country,' she says. 'It's changed my social life completely.'

Teenagers might have their parents to thank for their smartphone and social media addiction as their parents were the early adopters of the smartphone. Peter, 38 and father of two teenagers, reports that he used to be on his phone or laptop constantly. 'I was always connected and I felt like I was always working,' he says. 'How could I tell my kids to get off their phones if I was always in front of a screen myself?' So, in the evenings and at weekends, he takes his SIM card out of his smartphone and puts it into an old-style mobile phone that can only make calls and send text messages. 'I'm not completely cut off from the world in case of emergencies, but the important thing is I'm setting a better example to my kids and spending more quality time with them.'

Is it only a matter of time until the generation above and below Peter catches up with the new trend for a less digital life?

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Average: 4.2 (100 votes)

Submitted by shahhoseini on Mon, 17/02/2020 - 14:38

To be honest, I am who uses the smartphone more than all of the family. Needless to say, I spend it on language learning and other working applications.

Submitted by imeel on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 20:20

Definitely my son is the one who uses his phone the most among my family. I think technology is just fantastic, but it is important to know how to use it and on what things we should use it for.

Submitted by huyentran on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 12:08

I have a friend. She is extremely addicted to facebook. She spends all day playing facebook to see and like other people's photos. If she doesn't play facebook for a day, she will feel angry and bored. I advised her but she was too addicted to give it up.
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Submitted by mtalebi on Wed, 22/01/2020 - 06:39

Does this reading belong to intermediate or beginner level? In the above, it has been written language level: beginner, while I have selected it in intermediate level.

Hello mtalebi

You're right -- this page is at the intermediate level but was tagged at the beginner level. I've just fixed this.

Thanks very much and sorry for the confusion!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fikymaulana on Sat, 28/12/2019 - 11:11

Be wide on using smartphone. Because, it containing not only positive impact but also negative impact particulary to the childrens.

Submitted by HelianG on Sat, 16/11/2019 - 21:01

well,I am the one who uses the most his phone in my family,but actually, I am proud of it because I use it to study English,I spend almost all my time in my phone studying English.I used to use my phone only for video games but I realized that I was wasting my time,so I decided to change the way I was using my phone.

Submitted by Nebulasa36 on Mon, 07/10/2019 - 17:45

I think my sister and I are the most members of the family who use the phone almost the entire day, but unlike my sister when I go out I enjoy the day without using it

Submitted by dan on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 02:28

Hello. I'm 50. I have smartphone but i'm not a fan for social media. I use just internet when i must to do at work and when i need some additional information about something. I really enjoy to speak and spend time with people in real life. And i feel so good to do that.

Submitted by cittàutopica on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 18:31

All of my relatives use their phone, but for different use; for example: my sister, especially for sending messages and photos by WhatsApp; my nephew and my nieces, for connecting on social media with their friends.