English Lesson Based on Technology

Is Technology Addictive? An English Lesson Based on a BBC Report.

The technological revolution has given us the opportunity to always be connected. Through social media we can constantly be in contact with others. But, is technology inherently addictive?

In this video, a BBC reporter investigates this question, and also sets a challenge for herself and four others.

Watch the video and then continue with the lesson.

The Video

The Transpcript

Here are parts of the video transcribed:

[intro] Through smartphones, tablets, apps, and laptops, technology now influences almost every aspect of our lives. We’re engaged politically, creatively, socially, and emotionally 24 hours a day because of the technology revolution. Our digital lives are just as full on as our real world lives.

But, the fear is that this new digital way of life that we’re all exposed to is in reality powerfully and dangerously addictive. For me this is one of the most important issues concerning mental health. However, in our overly diagnostic world, before we rush to medically label another yet another one of our behaviours, I need to be convinced: is there really something to fear?; is there something truly, inherently addictive about modern technology?

[1:11] How often are you using that every day? Erm… pretty much all the time. I don’t think I could count the number of times I check Twitter or check Facebook. (girl) I couldn’t either, I check it a lot. Even if I’m bored, you don’t really think about it, you just kinda go straight to look what other people are doing.

[1:58] It’s definitely going to be difficult to give up. But, there’s a difference between annoyance at losing a useful and enjoyable tool, and the physical and mental anguish that can come from giving up something truly addictive.

Most addictions in the classic sense, such as drugs, have a physical dimension linked to our inbuilt rewards system.

[3:18] It’s one of the reasons why problem gambling became the first medical recognized behavioral addiction in 2013. Now, early studies are beginning to see the same response with technology, particularly when we look at internet gaming. Could that response lead to addicted like behaviour?

[4:22] And when it gets really bad, what are the kids doing to resist those parental instructions? – I mean, I’ve had instances of, you know, knives being pulled out on parents because they’ve taken away their gaming device, and it’s a minefield of how to parent through that.

[4:48] Where is the addictive trigger in something like social networking? – Many point to its ability to change our mood; the emotional boost and sense of self-worth we get from our peers liking, sharing, and retweeting what we post. And, then there’s the thrill of finding out if we have received those likes and retweets, giving us that all important reward, driving us to keep logging in and keep posting.

[5:40] My argument is that technology kind of enhances and stimulates that vulnerability or susceptibility; it’s not to demonize the internet in and of itself, because most of us use it, and most of it.. you know, is something that actually is a positive thing in our life. And, one of the things that I really want to try and stress is that doing something a lot, does not necessarily mean that it’s problematic.

[7:21] (talking about their challenge): I found the first day the hardest I think, because it was kind of, you’re so used to doing it. It’s actually been quite refreshing, and made me realize that I could probably get rid of Facebook. (Guy) But, it did take a little while.. now it’s kind of okay, but in the mornings I still check my phone, and there’s nothing to do, and where’s Facebook, where’s Twitter?

[8:19] We’re going through a massive process of change in the way that we live our lives. And, this is because of this huge technological revolution. And, of course there are those who are vulnerable and who may become addicted to new pleasurable behaviours, and we have a duty of care to those people. But, as a species, this is about adaptation; it’s about understanding our behaviour; not panicking about change; and, taking personal responsibility; responsibility as parents, responsibility as individuals, and as society as a whole.

Analysis

Addictive / Addicted To

I have written about different types of adjectives here, and the difference between these two is that when we say, “I am addicted to technology” we are describing ourselves. Whereas addictive is used to describe something or a situation.

  • He’s addicted to drugs.
  • Drugs are addictive.
  • She used to be addictive to shopping.
  • Shopping is addictive.

You can hear these two adjectives used throughout the video.

Complete the sentence: He was _________ to gambling.

Answer

He was addicted to gambling.


It’s definitely going to be difficult to give up

When the younger people in the bar were set the challenge of going without the apps on their phones, one of the guys said, “It’s definitely going to be difficult to give up.” To give something up means to stop doing something; to quit.

Q. Did the younger people manage to give up using the apps on their phones?

Answer

Yes. But, the presenter wasn’t able to do it.


You can use this phrasal verb followed by a verb or a noun. The verb is always in the gerund form:

  • My friend finally gave up smoking.
  • He’s given up playing computer games at night.
  • I really want to give up drinking coffee again! or I really want to give up coffee!

Then there’s the thrill of finding out…

I see many learners incorrectly use know instead of find out. To find something out means to learn about something. The following examples should help you understand the difference:

  • I already knew that they got engaged. In fact, I found out last Wednesday.
  • I’ve just found out that David (our boss) is leaving! – Really? I thought you already knew.

I could probably get rid of Facebook

To get rid of something means to eliminate or discard something. In the example given, the girl is saying that she could probably give up Facebook and stop using it.

Q. Do you think I could give up Facebook?

Answer

I could for personal use, but not for my business. Speaking of Facebook, if you haven’t already liked my page, you can do so now:

And, you can share this lesson by clicking the link:

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Here are more examples:

  • I need to get rid of these old clothes.
  • Should we have a spring clean, and just get rid of a lot of the things we don’t use?

We’re going through a massive process of change in the way that we live our lives

This is a great example of the difference in pronunciation between the noun life (in the plural form), and the verb live. Click here for more information on this difference, and also for ways to live life to the fullest.

Discussion

The report concluded that we are going through massive changes in terms of how we are using technology, and that although there are some who will get addicted to this new technology, it’s important to focus on how we adapt and how we can take responsibility for our own actions.

Now, I’ve got two questions for you:

1. Could you give up social media for four days?

2. Do you agree with the conclusion of the report?

Leave your answers below. And, feel free to comment on anything in the report and this lesson.

Name: Email:
  • SAMUEL

    1. Could you give up social media for four days? I wonder. I remember going on holiday for about 4 days and therefore before packing up the first think I made sure to take with me? Guess what? my gadgets so that I could be in touch with Facebook and others. I think I might be addicted as well.

    2. Do you agree with the conclusion of the report? Yep. As a society, we’ve got to adapt to changes and can not be too reluctant to this new on-line technological era. Nevertheless, we still have to be in touch with our society, be sociable enough and never ever transform ourselves into robots. In other words, we have to humanize as well as make a good use of the new inventions.

  • Mary

    Thank you for a present-day lesson)) I love BBC and your teaching.
    Well, I had such challenge to give up social media. It was difficult for the first time. However I felt some freedom and it was easier to do something that I used to do hardly. And what the most important I had my own thoughts. When sitting at the web everyday, your brain/mind gets full of not your own thoughts,believes as if you live other people’s lives..actually it is awful. So let’s keep our own mind.
    I agree with the presenter about her conclusions. We should adapt to social media but not panic. And it is better to take limited doses of social media.

  • Just A Bloke

    Give it up…I’ve only just started!
    Yeah, I reckon I could give it up for 4 days, probably will soon, cos it’s getting abit yawn.
    The report’s got some points, depends on who you are & what motivates ya innit.