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 farhadwahaj on Sat, 03/09/2022 - 06:51


I am a father of four children, I am the one who uses the most smartphone at home the reason is that I am teaching with my colleagues, and I usually do my work through my smartphone. But my children are keener than me to use the smartphone and play games in it, and they are addicted to the smartphone, however, I always tell to them to get off the phone, even, though I have broken some smartphones due to this reason.

Submitted by vANISH2004 on Thu, 01/09/2022 - 16:35


I think I use my devices such as laptop, mobile phone, computer, etc. the most among my family. But It doesn't feel like an addiction because such devices are used mostly to studying and rare online conversations, so that I wouldn't say something against it, although nowadays more and more people are neglecting their real life because of online globalization

Submitted by Nandar Su Hlaing on Wed, 10/08/2022 - 15:11


Actually, including me I always use phone the most one in my family or friends. So I remind by myself not to waste my valuable time. You have many things to do. Please emphasis your work like that.

Submitted by mardy on Tue, 02/08/2022 - 14:48


Well, It's definitely me .I used to addicted with phone a lot of time in a day when I was a high school student. Currently I can reduce it much more than before but not completely yet. Now I only use it at my spare time.

Submitted by EMF_12 on Thu, 30/06/2022 - 00:15


I think that my aunt is the one who uses her phone the most. But, it is only for work matters, so she keeps an eye on the phone for calls or Whatsapp messages. Furthermore, after the working day, she uses the phone to rest and see posts on Tik Tok (she makes videos too).

Submitted by janinabaez19 on Wed, 08/06/2022 - 20:24


Well, I really enjoy doing these exercises. It's improved my abilities in my exams.

Submitted by Hachi_ko on Mon, 30/05/2022 - 17:00


Well I prefer do this activities becouse I can learn and practice the thinghs that I know, when I start doing the exercise for me was more easy stay and understood my classrs

Submitted by Adriana Gtz on Mon, 30/05/2022 - 16:55


I think it's my son and me. The difference is that I use it mainly for work and I sometimes hate it and my son uses it for fun and to watch videos that interest him and make him learn more about something he wants to know.

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Sun, 29/05/2022 - 12:55


Who uses their phone the most among your family or friends?

in my family all of them use phones. in fact, my mom does not know how to use a smartphone. I gave her their mobile and he has regular practice and now she is expert fir using smartphones. when I was 21 years my father gifted me one mobile phone and I started whats app first time and facebook

Submitted by Polad Samadli on Mon, 04/04/2022 - 18:19



Submitted by Khin_Burmese on Sat, 02/04/2022 - 17:20


My friend, Khaing Sin Thant, uses smart phone among friends. She constantly uses it for Facebook, which is a fun place to share feelings and pretty moments among Burmese teenagers. Also, she spend her time on smartphone by chatting with her boyfriend. Besides, Khaing watch movies and series on her phone.

Submitted by alia fauzy on Sun, 27/03/2022 - 18:38


In my family I think all of us are using them. My parents are addicted to facebook and whattsapp, while my little brother was addicted with online games and I am addicted to instagram and online games. Sometimes I felt like I don't want to play phone that day but end up playing phone all day. I admitted it is really disturbing me because of that 'playing phone' I procastinate my homework a lot and regret about it when it came to duedate but then I will repeat it again..

Submitted by Maksmatt on Sat, 18/12/2021 - 18:24


My son, aged 11 is addict to his mobil phone. When I say to him that hes not allowed to see on his phone so often he gets angry. This is why we not allowed him his phone for one week now.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Tue, 16/11/2021 - 23:17


Me :( I`m sorry to my family about that because I miss valuable moments with them. I know its just wasting my time but its like a bad addiction...

Submitted by TAN SHIAO YEW on Wed, 10/11/2021 - 02:33


Nowadays gadgets are important in our daily life includes my grandmother. She likes to watch lives in my Facebook account. I have recommended her to register a new account but she rejected. What I feel a bit irritable is sometimes she share the live to my personal account or my friends through messenger. Then I need to delete and explain to my friends. Although technologies are convenient for us but we need to control our uses in smartphones and spend more time with our family.

Submitted by Baibuabucha on Sat, 06/11/2021 - 05:12


Certainly, I use smartphone and social media much more my parents. I'm addicted to it and use it all the time, because I feel like I can't stop receiving some interesting information, knowledge, and several issues from social media, which are very useful for me. Nevertheless, I think it is a little bit toxic to my mental health due to negative information, shock news and also my jealousy of others' well-being, so I try to cut myself off from social media but I always suffer. As a result, I'm always complained about too much using social media by my parents, who rarely use social media and don't prefer following news.

Submitted by LamVanPhuong on Thu, 04/11/2021 - 14:57


i think it's me because I can't leave my phone for many hours. Actually i used to consider about this but i can't stop use the phone because because apart from entertainment i also use it to study and work.

Submitted by Phyo Thandar Nwe on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 14:14


Yeah , it’s the problem we facing in this advanced technological era.
I am also addicted to my phone.Sometimes feel guilty for so much time spending on social media.But on the other hand it is good to have contact with families and friends especially during pandemic when we can’t meet in person.As early adopters parents to mobile devices and internet, it’s difficult to tell their children to reduce screen time.I think we should change the ways we use those in order to set a good example for children.As for generations above us ,these advanced technology made them to get close contact with their families and friends virtually.I think ,it’s good for them because of that they don’t feel lonely and can contact again with their longtime-no-see friends.

Submitted by febernarde on Mon, 18/10/2021 - 23:25


Definitely, I'm the person who used most smartphone in my house. My brother used so much too, but I think I'm more addicted, it's something that bothers me, but I can't stop using all the time LOL.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Sun, 17/10/2021 - 13:11


I use more time mobile phone than others. I'm not in social media app. I'm only use study purpose.

Submitted by Dariusz on Wed, 18/08/2021 - 10:09

I'm afraid it's me. I use my smartphone almost constantly. I have recently realized that I am constantly connected to social media and apps, still in front of my screen. I must change my habit.
Profile picture for user iEdd

Submitted by iEdd on Tue, 20/07/2021 - 23:02

In my family, my wife is who uses the smartphone the most. Mainly for her work, but I think she has a sort of adiction with social media. In the past I was near to fall in that ritym, but I realized how harmfull it could be to my life and professional performance. So, I've been downplaying the time I spend on it

Submitted by math_coder on Sat, 26/06/2021 - 17:48

Hi dear. How long did it take to done this article? (Is this question was true?)
Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 27/06/2021 - 14:53

In reply to by math_coder


Hello math_coder,

That's nearly correct. Instead of 'to done' you should say 'to do': 'How long did it take to do this article?'

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Thu, 24/06/2021 - 19:54

I think that my friends are more addicted to social media than my family. On the one hand, my friends are always writing, reading or watching videos on their phones even when they're talking to other people. For me that habit is impolite, and I think they are missing out on spending funny time with people. On the second hand, I consider the majority of my family members no addicted to social media or apps. However I have an aunt who loves playing apps on her phone even when we're eating dinner as a family. She's playing with her phone at every moment. Finally, if you ask me if I'm addicted to my phone, I will tell you that I'm not addicted enough, so I mean I use my phone every day, but for academic purposes. I mean I learned English on my own with my cellphone, and I need it every day to study English. Even though the internet is used a lot by me, I dislike social media, I consider it so tiresome.

Submitted by Paula Bermúdez… on Thu, 13/05/2021 - 03:09

I feel like my friends are more addicted to technology than my family. On the one hand, my friends are teenagers and most of them prefer to spend a lot of time with their phones than go out and share with other people. I think that happens because the apps are pretty addictive, for example TikTok or Instagram. On the other hand, my relatives spend less time with their phones because they think that the most important thing is to share time with family. And lastly, I guess that sometimes I use much time on my social media and I don't like it, because with that time you can do other important things like read a book, learn a new language or other skills.

Submitted by Mai Khin Nway Shein on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 16:15

It's me! The most using smart phone! Until about three months ago... When I woke up, I picked up the phone, than used social media, played game, watched movies and chatted with friends except working time. I even used my phone while I was eating. How bad is it? But, I can try to control my self, reduce using social media and playing game. Now, I can replace them by reading the Bible, praying for my country to release from Junta, watching the Bible study lives, studying English to improve myself, doing workout.

Submitted by desouza on Wed, 07/04/2021 - 19:16

Sometimes I think, I can't without live my mobile phone, it is not just the phone .I keep all of my important information in my smart phone. I have a lot of pin as like as you and I can't hold inside my hand all of the information .Also I use my phone as a note book.When we bet any topic with my friend , I always check it out on internet. I was young before the internet, it was a good time without smart phone but İf we had a information any topic, we were check in the big heavy books and there are not always true. I love my smart phone and I m pretty sure that I am not addicted on internet.

Submitted by TIa vinaka on Tue, 06/04/2021 - 04:16

I guess it's me. My friends and My family are not so addicted to smartphone and social media. so do I. but I'm into a game recently. I can't help playing the game. I used my smart phone only a few minutes per day before but after found this game I use it over 3hours or more per day.

Submitted by Frank Cuello on Wed, 31/03/2021 - 15:38

I think we all use the smartphone in the same amount of time, which is bad because we spend at least four hours of our days in these gadgets.

Submitted by In on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 08:03

I think that they both use their smartphones equality.

Submitted by YED on Thu, 18/03/2021 - 21:12

It s really amazing to see how eenagers and children are comfortables withs smartphones, they use them every day and night for everything, they can forget theirs schoolbook, but never their phones!

Submitted by Rano on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 19:14

Now the number of people ues the digital life increase in the all of the world that is effect in social life. In my family not ues much their phone. I hope to keep this behavior.

Submitted by ahmad 920 on Fri, 05/03/2021 - 13:24

All generation on my family uses social media applications like facebook. The new generation use these apps more than an old generation.

Submitted by Verna Budi Amanda on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 03:21

we cant deny that social media really affected our lives. Since my parents know instagram and stuffs we barely talks even if we sat to each other in a living room. I wanted to have a little chit chat with them, but they are too busy with their social media. And i hate it when i try to make a conversation but they just look at their phone screen and not into my eyes :)

Submitted by German on Tue, 16/02/2021 - 01:12

My friends use their phones more than my family. However, my father use his phone so much, not only to call or chat but also to social media like Facebook.

Submitted by Abrarhussain on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 09:24

In my family the young generation use their smart phone to access digital habits such as tiktok, instagram, whatsapp, twitter, smart chat, messenger, face book, you tube, face time etc.

Submitted by Andrea Valencia on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 22:29

I think my friends use their smartphones more because in this day and age they must work on the Internet. anyway my family is using more their smart phones now.

Submitted by Dmytro on Thu, 28/01/2021 - 13:47

Nowadays digital technologies play a very important role in many dimensions of life. There are a lot of talks about addiction to smartphones. I half agree with such a statement. On the one side, it's true cause people really spend a lot of time using their gadgets. On the other side, at all times some people were addicted to something like excessive smoking, excessive eating, excessive watching TV, etc. Everything excessive is bad. Social media is not an exception. When it comes to relationships between edges, grandparents always suffer from a lack of attention to them from their grandchildren, no matter what they are doing, whether staring at their smartphones or meeting friends. Every next generation has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Submitted by kaisergeneral on Mon, 25/01/2021 - 12:50

As Brazilian, I have to say that the use of technology it's rather different for us. My parents weren't the first generation to use smartphones, but my generation, people in theirs 18-24. Thus, it was this generation that introduced the technology to our parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, I realized people are more and more addicted to internet and smartphones in general—people don't talk with eachother on the way of work anymore, instead they keep looking at their smartphones, it's sadly became a excuse not to have social contact.

Submitted by Asni on Wed, 20/01/2021 - 23:34

Technology has strongly dominated our lives. Its constant use has become so natural and so familiar to us that we never give a thought to the issue. Surprisingly, now that I'm endeavoring to think about it, I'm realizing that we are constantly in front of a screen, if it is not a smartphone, then it is either a computer, a tablet or a smartTV. Nobody in my family is using the phone that much, maybe because they are all adults or kids, no teenagers but yet we are using the smartTV almost the same way we used to use our smartphones. Ironically, machines have started to take control over humans, and who knows where this situation could lead us in the further future.

Submitted by Minh on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 21:43

In the family, I think that adult people who use smartphone the most communicate or chat to works. Beside that they need to do all of thing to relate their life. Opposite with parents children use their cell phone for surf website or play games the most. Nowadays, cell phone which is essential of the life, people can not have it

Submitted by Saad786 on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 15:57

Neither my parents nor my friends use much mobile as they are aware of its loss. Mobile phones is made only for advantages. But younger generation is using it irrelevantly

Submitted by Vlada on Fri, 08/01/2021 - 07:09

I'm fairly sure that an enormous part of humanity addicted to different social media. However, I think that it isn't so awful how some people reckon. Social medias can make us feel less lonely cause we can communicate wit other people all over the world at any time. But we should to think for ourself that social media can't be so attractive as real life.

Submitted by Harrison on Mon, 28/12/2020 - 04:36

Mostly, youths about or over 20-year-old are addicted with mobile and social media. And as far as I know, many teens are not influenced by social media. They are addicted in something new, for instance, video game and some new high-tech application.

Submitted by khalidait on Wed, 23/12/2020 - 12:09

personally i think the teenagers like me and my brother use smart phone all the time , but when my parents bought smart phones too they became addiction on social media all the time

Submitted by Thinthinmyoe on Tue, 22/12/2020 - 14:37

In my opinion, most youths including me spend our time by using social media.It might be dangerous for next generation.We should change our behaviours.

Submitted by _janylaa_ on Sun, 20/12/2020 - 17:13

In my opinion I spend most of my time on the phone but there are pros and cons. The advantages of the fact that I meet and communicate with different people, get interesting and informative information from the Internet. Disadvantages that I spend time online, so you can communicate with family more, spend time outdoors and do different things