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 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.
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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?)
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Submitted by Kirk Moore 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 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.