Smartphone Addiction

Teachers’ Notes on the smartphone article

The Smartphone article and the learners’ questions are in the Student Centre.

Lesson outline:

Level: Intermediate/upper-intermediate. Ideally, the teacher will record this passage before the lesson.

Activity 1 (pre-reading)

  • How did people communicate with each other at a distance a hundred years ago? What about fifty years ago? How about when you were born?
  • How did people communicate at a distance ten years ago? What about today?
  • What do you think about the way communication systems have changed?

Activity 2 (pre-reading)

These words can be grouped in any way as long as the student(s) can explain why they have been grouped in that way. Here one possible way:

  • broadband, Internet
  • smartphone, iPhone, android, mobile, computer
  • Facebook, Twitter
  • Apple, Blackberry, Google
  • email, text, fax

Activity 3

What’s the difference between the way people use email and the way people use Twitter?

Both are ways of sending messages quickly but Twitter is an online social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Email is a more general service with no restriction in length and no social network element.

Emails are sent to specific addresses whereas when you “tweet”, your message can read by anyone who is “following” you.

Activity 4

How many of you have an iPhone or a Blackberry? How do they compare?

Activity 5

Give the students the heading and ask them to predict what the passage is about: ‘Facebook and Twitter fuel iPhone and BlackBerry addiction, says Ofcom’

Activity 6

What is the base word for the word ‘addiction’? What other related words do you know?

addict – addicts – addicted – addiction – addictions – addictive

What are we often talking about when we use the word addiction?

‘Addiction’ is often used to refer to compulsive behaviour such as drug addiction, tobacco addiction and alcohol addiction.

Activity 7

Are you addicted to your device? How much do you use it? What do you do in a train or bus, or when waiting for someone?

Activity 8

Listen to the recording for the first time. What is the key (main) message?

The key message is that in today’s world the majority of young people and about a third of adults appear to be addicted to their phone, which is, in many cases, a smartphone of some sort.

Activity 9

Listen to the passage for the second time. Questions to follow:

  • Which phones are the most popular? Smartphones
  • Which group is most addicted? Teenagers
  • Which social network is most popular? Facebook
  • Why are some mobile operators under pressure? Increased pressure for data transfer as a result of people using their smartphones to download videos & music tracks and to send emails while on the move.
  • What percentage of people have access to fibre-optic broadband in the UK? About 57% of the UK population could connect to fibre-optic broadband if they paid for it but most have chosen not to.

Activity 10

Listen again for these expressions; what do they mean in this context?

  • on the go = on the move, wirelessly
  • outstripped = moved way ahead of; jumped a long way above; gone a long way beyond
  • new generation of = completely new model; more advanced model using new technology
  • reliant on (new technology) = dependent on the new technology; the new technology is very important in their lives
  • an essential tool = a very, very important way of doing something
  • huge boost (in smartphone sales) = a big increase; a rapid rise
  • adopted (it) = started to use it
  • fibre-optic (cable) = a cable made of glass instead of copper (and able to carry data extremely quickly)

Activity 11

Read paras 1 – 4. If you lost your phone (whether ordinary phone or smartphone) how would you feel? How would it change your life?

Activity 12

Complete this paragraph using the words provided. Where students use other words (i.e. words not in the original text) this should be accepted as long as the meaning remains the same. For example, a student may opt for the word tremendous or dramatic instead of huge. Choices can be discussed by the class.

Research indicates that Facebook is the most popular social network website for mobile users. While may people, particularly teenagers are able to multitask, they spend far more time on Facebook than browsing or on other websites. There has been a huge increase in the sale of smartphones over the last few years. This increase has dramatically increased demand for data which has put some operators under strain. In addition to being a country full of mobile addicts, people in Britain watch a lot of television. Some of this is via fibre-optic broadband which is far more efficient than copper cabling. A staggering 129bn texts were sent in 2009 by people in Britain and that was an increase of a quarter over the year before. People today are very reliant on the Internet and their phones, and many will agree that they are addicted.

Activity 13

Write 250 words about your own use of phones and how it compares with your parents’ use.

The teacher may need to amend or diversify this activity to be more relevant to the students’ life experiences.