Digital habits across generations

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

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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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Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by _yuliana_dobrovolska on Thu, 17/12/2020 - 20:23

I think I spend a lot of time on my phone, but I don't think it's very bad because I communicate with other people on social networks + during distance learning, the phone becomes a best friend

Submitted by 094311 on Thu, 17/12/2020 - 19:03

Hmm, modern technologies are available to everyone, but what did you doubt?

Submitted by Dddddo on Wed, 16/12/2020 - 19:56

I think our phones it’s part of our life and today it’s normal , but I should used internet rarely

Submitted by androsovichdasha on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 17:38

My mother like the mother in the article uses Facebook for different purposes.For example, she can find necessary imformation, chat with relatives anf even play some games

Submitted by speedcuber_s on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 15:44

This information is very interesting for me. It's funny to watch grandparents use gatgets.I'm glad to see them happy about it.

Submitted by Vlasyuk on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 15:07

I'm more addicted to the phone, I can't be without Instagram and other messengers for a long time, but sometimes I leave my phone and spend time with my family, and sometimes I just do my homework and have no time on the phone

Submitted by NOURHAN93 on Sat, 05/12/2020 - 01:52

i am the more addicted on my phone, actually i am forced to be online all the time cause my work depends on phone ,i admit that i am missing out on spending time with my family ,however, i am trying to cut off from mobile in weekends as i am less keen by facebook and social media .

Submitted by Ehsan on Sun, 29/11/2020 - 09:57

Unfortunately, most people that I know, more than normal use smartphones and social media. Although technologies such as the internet, smartphones, and social media are very useful to our lives, addiction to them is very bad. For example in our family, my wife, my father, etc. use their smartphones more than usual. but I try to manage my usage.

Submitted by Viatavie on Sat, 28/11/2020 - 11:29

In my family the person who uses his phone the most is my youngest sister, she uses it day and night

Submitted by farhad zada on Sat, 28/11/2020 - 10:20

My brother uses his phone the most among my family. He always watches videos on various social medias and the volume of sound is always top. It is so annoying, I wish he would stop it.

Submitted by David_Tham on Fri, 27/11/2020 - 14:35

I think, I have spend time in social too much and more than everybody in my family do.

Submitted by loveiseverything on Thu, 12/11/2020 - 06:26

I think it is my brother. He likes playing phone games all the time when he is free, and stays up late until 3 am. He is totally addicted to phones. Because of him, I hate all games. Too bad...

Submitted by togrul01 on Sat, 31/10/2020 - 16:05

My friends use the phone for more time than my parents. By the way, I have been addicted to my phone since the beginning of coronavirus
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Submitted by Aghaton on Wed, 21/10/2020 - 13:12

My youngest brother uses the phone most of the time in my family.I find out it is because she finds it easy to meet up with her friends who are far

Submitted by habibao.medo on Mon, 19/10/2020 - 11:08

the one who spend a lot of time on their phones mmmm i think it is me and my brother since we have nothing to do but i am trying to reduce my time with my phone and iam trying to learn english and finding a hoppy

Submitted by HxH on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 18:02

I think all people that I know use their phones regularly. They use it in making phone calls and entertainment as well. personally, I try to reduce my time on the phone and to use it more purposefully. In my opinion, The excessive usage of smartphone cause isolation and depression.

Submitted by shawn peter ru… on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 14:29

as a young generation that i have 18 years old, i can't use my smartphone or computer to playing computer games or using social media, i am in social media maybe three time in a week or i have not played computer games that always i see them in propagandas for two years. i like to use social media to have strong relationship and have enjoy in my life with playing computer games but as you know there is the issue of future and i have no time for using my social instrument an etc and as you know: Without suffering, treasure is not possible
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Submitted by danisep on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 22:14

Among family and friends my nephews use a lot of their phones, tablets and consoles. They always have energy and don't like to stay over there doing nothing if they have time so they start to chat and play with their friends.

Submitted by Alia sader on Wed, 16/09/2020 - 19:13

In fact , my husband use his smartphone the most in my family. I don ' t use my cell frequently , even , I forget that I have it . Exept when I have work .

Submitted by Roblox on Mon, 07/09/2020 - 18:07

I prohibit my kids from using a smartphone that makes my husband is on the very top and me the second place.

Submitted by melisong56 on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 15:31

In fact, as the young generation, I’m the one who uses the phone the most amongst all my relatives. I can spend 4 or more hours on the phone, just by scrolling on social media and look at the other things. Overtime, technology is actually cannot be separated by human. As many jobs and activities could be done by using the smartphone/computer itself.

Submitted by Seina Tsuchiya on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 10:02

I'm using mobile phone the most among the familiar people. I always use it. Many of my friends use it too, but I probably use it the most. It is very needed to get in touch with friends and listen to music. I think I can't live without my cell phone.

Submitted by Lu's students on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 20:55

My granchildren use the phone the most in my family. They like to be in contact with friends. I´m 76, I don't use the cell frequently but I have to recognize that it helps me to be more in contact with my family, I can see them everyday and enjoy what they are doing at the moment. It's much better than a photo.

Submitted by IKEDA on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 18:59

The most smartphone user around me is me. If I have time, I always flick my phone's screen. I think I need to be apart from my smartphone a bit though.

Submitted by Nobu1230 on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 12:54

I and My wife are most using phone.we always use smartphone and internet to search everything and contact with people.It is both of private and worktime.on the other hand,my mother is using phone less than father can hardly use is too difficult for him.
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Submitted by Hennadii on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 11:43

Well, as I spend so much time far away from the computer I need my smartphone to be online and to search, when it's needed, on the Internet. Almost all my favorite sites for buying, reading, studying, and communicating have their own mobile apps and I use them. I don't watch TV (in the very rare case) so even news I catch on the Internet. Yeap, I have to admit that I'm a kind of addicted to Facebook because it's my almost only way to interact with my friends but I try to keep the balance between real and virtual life.

Submitted by Davis Mitchell on Mon, 03/08/2020 - 15:10

In fact, I spend to much time in smartphone amoung my family. When I wake up , firstly, I look in my screen and сheck messages. I think this is so dependence but technology can give us more informations about our world. My grandparents always ask me : "How open this ?", "How use it ?", "How close this ?" and "HOW WORK THIS?" ( I`m so love this) . Of course, I`m helping them. It`s not bad, because we can connect in real or online life. Teenagers helping their grandparents. Somedays, our grandchildren have to teach us their future technology.

Submitted by mahiro on Mon, 27/07/2020 - 07:23

My father and mother doesn't use the phone very much at home. But I often using the phone. However I don' t use the phone at outside. Because I thinking that using the phone is bad manners. So I using the phone only at home. I often play soccer game on the phone when I using the phone. That's my break in the doing homework. And I often listen to music. It's also my hobby. But I careful that not use the often. I think that family conversation is very important.

Submitted by Matveeva Masha on Tue, 21/07/2020 - 16:00

i think it is me and my friends, because i am always in front of screen. I use the Internet to learn, communication with my friends, find the nessecary information, read book. my life depends on the mother often use her phone or laptop to work, but she sometimes takes a break from social networks and the internet. my grandmother often use phone to call somebody, but she rarely use the internet. for her it is too difficult.

Submitted by Risa on Mon, 20/07/2020 - 07:32

I think my father is most using phones among close to me. Because he is busy with work, and he checks work on his phone on a holiday. But I use on my phone at long time, too. I usually using my phone when I search for something, check my SNS and listen to music. I spend so much time on social media. As SNS is boundless, so time passes as soon as I see it. That is my waste time. In these days we can’t go out because of the coronavirus, so we spent many hours on using phone. I want to be careful by how to use phone. 

Submitted by Juanfelipeca on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 04:09

I can't imagine my grandfather's using Facebook, they are so old. Although this generation spends so much time on social media, it's so sad.

Submitted by martin olivares on Wed, 08/07/2020 - 18:36

Being honest, my family and I spend too much time in our iphones and truly i dont know why! we dont have any problems or anything like that im definitely going to propose a decrease in the time we each spends on our iphones

Submitted by antinaoki on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 08:07

were not really using the phone a lot in my family,but the person uses smartphone the most is me.but latetly my dad is starting to use the youtube to recieving the informations so he dont need to watch tv all the time waiting for one news that he is interested in.i use the smartphone to do something quick most of the time ,but i do most of my stuff on the conputer because its really fats.

Submitted by naru on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 06:22

It's maybe me or my older brother. First, Recentlly the time staying at home have increased due to corona virus. And at the same time the time using mobile have increased. Especially, As for me I don't have TV in my room so that I often watch some video by kind of Youtube when I have the time. But It's not only game or listening to music but also useing to study. I think it's not bad thing to use mobile. Everything depends on how you use it.

Submitted by Y on Sun, 28/06/2020 - 16:12

I think me and my friends. My parents don't use smartphones better than I because my parents don't have time to work. Smartphones are not just for making phone calls and emails. If you have a smartphone, you can quickly find out what you do not know, you can listen to music, play games, and even watch videos. In my free time, I listen to music and watch videos of my favorite artists. In addition, I often call my friends. Because that leads to stress relief. Smartphones are very convenient. However, I must be careful not to get in trouble. Recently, I spend a lot of time at home because of the corona virus, so I tend to use smartphones. I want to know how many hours you spend on your smartphone each day.

Submitted by ryota on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 12:25

I use my phone the best among my family or friends. When I am a high school students, I used it to contact my friends and play game. My family used it about an hour a day. On the other hand, I used it for about three hours a day. But, now I have more time to use it. Because of corona virus, I take online classes. I use it to take classes and submit homework. as a result, I use it about six hours a day. I think phone is a very important thing to manage daily life. If I don't have phone, my life will be very difficult.

Submitted by Osuke on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 10:30

It is me who uses the phone the most in the family. To be honest, I use it all the time. Because it has become an essential part of our lives. But I don’t use it when I do school classes and assignments. A smartphone is a very useful tool for playing games, listening to music, and talking with my friends in our free time. However, doing too much is dangerous. The reason is that it can lead to addiction. So be careful about how to use it. That’s why I think about the rules myself and be careful how to use the smartphone.

Submitted by Riko on Wed, 24/06/2020 - 06:59

I think it's me in my family and friends. I use my smartphone to play games, listen to music and chat with my friends. Especially, I use Instagram for long time. Nowadays, we can't go outside so I spend many time with my smartphone. When I do my homework, I mute my phone's sound.

Submitted by Nanami on Mon, 22/06/2020 - 14:28

 All my family spends the same amount of time on their phones. Before college online classes started, I spent a lot of time of my phone, watching Instagram all the time. But nowadays I do my homework most of the day, so I rarely see it. My mother often use it to chat on LINE with her friends and my father sends messages to people at work.  The thing all my family members have in common is to have done online shopping more since before because we can't go shopping due to the COVID-19. Using smartphones for a long time is at risk of becoming a smartphone addiction, so I will be careful.

Submitted by Sharif Tayyebi on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 09:27

I think, social networks have extremely affected our social life. Where I live almost all teenagers and young people are using Facebook and other Social Media. They usually use them to make contact with their friends or check news. For example, my older and younger brothers and sister, usually use messanger, telegram, watsup, facebook and so on. They are always aware of the situation which is constantly updated by social networks. They are always online and if I or other friends want to make call to them, they will be available on Facebook or other social networks. Some people think that using Facebook and other social media can effect our social life, but in my opinion, it completely depends on our habits. My sister and brothers usually read, write, work or do other their duties perfectly and being online cannot negatively effect their life. On the other hand, my elder brother is using Facebook more than others. Sometimes I think he is like Chloe, and he goes to bed by his smartphone and wakes up by it too. I should say about myself that I am online about five hours a day, but I usually use social networks for one hour a day. I usually read or write something by using Internet. Therefore, this is the main reason that why I am online. Regards, Tayyebi

Submitted by Wakana M on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 05:09

My friends and I use our phones more than my family. Because my parents and siblings are working all day. so they have less time to use their phone. My case, I can’t go to the university because of the virus. The all classes are held online. So, I have to use my laptop and phone to take classes. And these days I’m in house all day. I have nothing to do except for doing homework, so the time to use my phone is increasing. I think my friends are the same situation as me. In addition, our generation spent much time using our phone such as watching YouTube or some social medias. Therefore, I think that I and my friends use our phone more than my family.

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.