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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Worksheet82.99 KB

Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by Anggi on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 07:08

I think social media has many benefits, if used properly. My father made Facebook and whatsapp, he used his smartphone more. He used it to contact or video calls with his family outside the city.

Submitted by Bloomybloom on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 07:03

I don't think all the old generations always use social media, it takes time to study technological progress. Because my dad is always confused using social media.

Submitted by Azwa simbala on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:55

I think the older people or younger people in this era will always use the smart phone, then use the social media for knowing news in this world.

Submitted by Chairunnisa k on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:54

Well, i think generation nowadays especially adults and elders prefer to use facebook rather than teenagers who choose Instagram or twitter.

Submitted by Lalanlanemey on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:52

I smiled when I filled in Task 2, because it was in accordance with reality. My parents when using social media.

Submitted by Avitaaa on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:44

My family always uses smartphones all the time, especially my sisters.

Submitted by WindiTinangon on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:43

I think social media is necessary in our lives now. But we have to know how much we use it. Do not use phones too much and we forget what happened around us. We must have time for family and our friends. Sometimes, we forget that we are talking with our parents when we are using the phone, right? We must be a good user to all of technology and social media.

Submitted by chofeefahh on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:37

I think the one who often playing phone in my family is my younger brother, then me. He do like to play games all the time. But, my parents got angry at him because he usually kill his time just for playing games. Currently, he is working at a port and less his time for playing games.

Submitted by yahyajoneh on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:24

Nowadays, parents start to use social media more than children..

Submitted by AndiAnugrahSAr on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 06:22

My parents have a handphone, They use it to communicate with friends and communicate with Their children. They also have social media but They are not fluent in using it

Submitted by CCM on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 23:52

I think i used to be the one who used her phone more than my family or friends. Nowadays people are starting to use more technology due to quarantine.

Submitted by AgusCartasegna on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 23:43

When I was a child the person who used to use his cellphone the most in my familiy was my uncle because I did not own one, but nowadays that I already have one I am the one who uses his cellphone for the longest time in my family.

Submitted by mouna99 on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 18:54

Nowadays, parents start to use social media more than chliden

Submitted by syah on Sat, 23/05/2020 - 07:19

Yeah maybe it's me haha. In my age right now, my smartphone is very useful for doing my excercise, explore what did happen about the world, and having fun too. But, I really want to make myself not to addicted in using smartphone.

Submitted by Deiiv_mizaru on Fri, 22/05/2020 - 17:40

As you know, there are a lot of gadgets in the most of houses, such as mobile phones, tablets or laptots. What I am truly passionate about social media, I used to chat with my friends every days but now I am useing to work. I am owner of a gym so I need to do marketing about my business, It's a wonderful tool! But I don't the unique who is addict to social media. My dad spend time in front of a screen, playing games or chatting with friends. In the other hand, my mum doesn't often use the social media since she doesn't know to use the mobile phone.

Submitted by JavierVR on Thu, 21/05/2020 - 00:17

I think that the old generations use the new social networks for communicating with old friends and, for see videos, news, digital books, to a difference in the parents are that maybe they used Facebook, for example, to see videos, pictures, more entertainment, and the new generations use differents social networks like Instagram, Whatsapp and this are for communicate and are more fun.

Submitted by Silvia030398 on Thu, 21/05/2020 - 00:08

It's very funny for every time my grandmother wants me to show her more on her phone and she talks to the whole echo family, I love it when sometimes her video call comes to me.

Submitted by Muhammad Bagir on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 05:26

My brother is most mobile phone users. His phone is never get off from his hand. I don't know what he do at that square-light thing.
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Submitted by JuanManuelLopezGil on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 22:14

My father uses his phone every day because he likes to play with it; also call his sisters, cousins and every people of this world. Is like an addict.

Submitted by Saif4Dx on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 06:08

Hello, I want to talk about using smartphones in my family. Firstly me and my sister, we use our phones much more than our parents and younger brothers. Because we usually play and learn all-day on our phones. But my parents don't use their phones much more than us. And finally, my younger brothers don't take their smartphones without consent from our parents so they don't use the phones much.
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Submitted by dinhhang on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 08:06

there are three kinds of people to use smartphone or social media in my family. My parents have been learnt how to use smartphone and Facebook to connect with us and their friends. My brother and I use internet for learning. And my sisters are addiction. They can not be cut off from their smartphone. They like to chat with their friends on Facebook, they usually look for somethings news and buy them. They spend a lot of time to read the novels on the internet.

Submitted by Aaron Wong on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 09:19

My sister is probably the one who uses her phone the most among the family, she can use her phone up to 12-13 hours nonstop listening to YouTube, Instagram and sometimes calling her friends, technology and social media is great but people must learn to discipline themselves while using it

Submitted by Samdickson on Wed, 15/04/2020 - 07:52

My younger sister is Social media addict. She's always on FB, Instagram,Twitter and other Social media handles. She disturbed me a lot, every now and then she wants me to snap and video her bcos, she's always sharing photos and videos on FB and other Social media handles
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 18:31

The most user of phone is my family.

Submitted by Daudau0601 on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 16:20

In my family, i think me and sister who use smart phone the most. I am always near my phone, i use it for surfing internet every time except bedtime or studying. Maybe my friend is just like me because we are teenagers . On the other hand, my parents rarely use smart phone, they only use it for calling when they need and they don't use it for surfing the internet because they are too busy, they don't have time. Nevertheless , i still want my parents use social network to share their life and know what am i doing like other my friend's parents. Especially, i want to they have relax time and smart phone which make my parents relax

Submitted by fathibba34 on Wed, 08/04/2020 - 18:21

Sincerly, i use my smartphone all the time, but i'm not addicted to it. i use because i have a lot off programs that help me in my every day life and work. At i home i'm trying to use it just when need it and giving time for my family after a long and tired day of work.

Submitted by conejo on Sun, 05/04/2020 - 03:26

I Think my hushband is the most mobile user. He tells us that he uses it for looking at paintings and listening to arts lecture, but I don´t believe that. And my son has an old-style mobile phone but he speaks every day with the calvo´s man.

Submitted by Mamta Gusain on Fri, 27/03/2020 - 10:17

I am not sure about my friends. but, yes, in my family everybody use their phone constantly except my mother. and these days we all have crossed the limit. as we are bound to stay inside as per guidelines of Ministry of health India due to COVID-19 My father and brother play games on smart phone constantly. My sister sometimes play game, watch video and busy with her friends on video call. i also use my phone. but not that much, i use social media to check my feeds only. I use smart phone as a tool to grow my knowledge. and i prefer using laptop rather than smart phone. as i surf lots of English learning sites, do exercise to improve English level. In today's life Smartphone has become one of our need. but we have to use it in a balanced way so that we can enjoy our family life as well as virtual life.

Submitted by Tony youssef on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 12:10

I guess it will be me who uses the smartphone but i use it most of the time in English learning and other stuff related to my college and i spend a little time on using Facebook and other social media

Submitted by Selma1987 on Tue, 03/03/2020 - 13:22

Actually me and my husband using smartphone too much and my daughter don't like this habit, although they are watching TV and YouTube mostly.

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.

Submitted by Shahzad7412 on Wed, 04/09/2019 - 18:37

I used lot of pc in school life for played game. Today I repentance about our past that I wast precious time.

Submitted by popo1011 on Mon, 02/09/2019 - 08:41

My husband uses mobile phone very much during the day. he spins on Telegram, Instagram and The other social media. but when he Came to home, he have leave it.
Well i think this kind of program is so addictive and you should tell to your housband that give up this kind of app and use just for fun. Children see us and imitiate us and is so harder for us to want to far away our children from this App.

Submitted by Smartsosty on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 20:53

My sister and I, we are the only persons who use very much the smartphone in my family, particularly me I use it most of the time for apps, and youtube videos.

Submitted by Tahliil_11 on Sun, 28/07/2019 - 09:24

Honestly speaking, I am the only one who mostly use his phone constantly and spend it most of his time.

Submitted by aralfakih on Wed, 26/06/2019 - 12:30

My child always spend a lot of time on watching youtube. I could not find a convenient way to keep him away or minimize the duration.

Submitted by Haya1_ on Sun, 16/06/2019 - 15:18

My teenager brother spends all his day totally on his phone and social media .

Submitted by Aikotoko on Sat, 15/06/2019 - 03:14

My husband and I do. About me, I stopped to use my smartphone too much when I left my country. I used to play games a lot but I realized that it was not good for my eyes and I did not feel that these games were excising. I stopped them, however, I still use it to check Facebook, Line and social media when I am free!