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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Submitted by yusuke on Mon, 15/06/2020 - 18:03

It may be me in my family. Because parents and siblings are usually working in week. And I use my phone and laptop for the assignments from college. So, I have been with phone and laptop for a long time.

Submitted by Ayaka on Mon, 15/06/2020 - 07:23

Social media is now an integral part of our lives. In fact, our school is doing online lessons now, and because of its function, we can learn now. For example, depending on it, the face-to-face relationship with others is reduced and you can only rely on information from social media. Of course, because it's a big existence for us, it's not only that convenient, it can also have a negative effect. That’s why I think everyone should revisit the problem and think about how to interact with social media. I also tend to use it for a long time, so I try to review my behavior carefully.

Submitted by senes19 on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 14:36

Of course my friends use their smart phones than my family. My mother has no Any smart phone, also my father has bought recently a smart phone. But my friends who have a smart phone and spend much more time on their phones keen on the technology. According to my friends, I am traditionalist. But my friends follow always the social media, online events and activities. It wouldnt be wrong to say that they live their lives online.

Submitted by Sophie13 on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 23:20

Hi there, I think I understand this statement/question a little. Can someone clarify this, pls? Thank you " 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? "

Hello Sophie13,

only a matter of time - this means that it is inevitable; it will happen sooner or later.

the generation above and below Peter  - this means the people who are an age where they could be Peter's parents (the generation above) and people who are an age where they could be Peter's children (the generation below)

catches up with the new trend for a less digital life - this means that they are not yet cutting down how much they are using their phones, but soon they will do the same as Peter


The whole sentence, therefore, is asking this question:

Is it inevitable that older and younger people will do the same as Peter and cut down on how much they use digital technology?



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sitii on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 07:53

My brother always plays games on his smartphone, and loses a lot of time to do things that are more useful, I think we should know to manage time.

Submitted by Wahyuni Mokoginta on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 07:47

Social media its a information for every people in the world

Submitted by alifyakawaii_ on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 07:21

True like the article above, my mother after becoming a facebook user she is able to meet a friend who is now in Italy, who has hardly seen her in 16 or 15 years.

Submitted by Daisuke Kambe on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 07:14

actually i'm that type of person, who has never left my handphone.

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.