Instant Gratification: Kids and Technology

Your wish is my command

“Learning to wait and being patient are skills that will allow our kids to deal with life’s challenges both in their childhood and beyond.”
~ Samantha Kemp Jackson

My seven-year-old son has a new fascination that surprisingly has nothing to do with tech. Or does it? It’s Pokémon cards. Strangely enough, I’m no stranger to Pokémon. My stepson, who is in his twenties now and lives on the other side of the country, was obsessed with these cards when he was his little brother’s age. Lucky for us, big brother hung onto his cards and has offered to send some through the mail.

But when, Mom?

Though many of my young son’s friends have generously given him cards to get started with, he has been begging to go out and buy some of his own. Like most kids of the Internet era, my seven-year-old is used to instant gratification. When you need an app, buy one (even if it’s with your own money). When you want a book, order it. It will arrive tomorrow. What won’t arrive tomorrow is a package from a twenty-something-year-old brother who rightfully has more important things to do like exams. Within minutes of receiving a text from my stepson that some cards would be on the way soon, my young son asked if we could check the mailbox.

Patience, Son!

Authentic Materials for Classroom Discussion

Do you enjoy using authentic materials in the classroom? In this Huffington Post article, a parent reflects on how kids used to have to wait patiently for their hopes and wishes to be fulfilled. Today, a new toy, book, or other desire is simply a click away. As Samantha Jackson points out, Amazon delivers a lot faster than Grandma or Santa: “Sadly, this perspective is more common than not with children who have grown up during a time where their wish was their parents’ immediate digital command.”

Discussion Questions

  1. How has the Internet era changed the amount of “stuff” kids have?
  2. Does technology make children and adults less patient?
  3. What can parents do to avoid the consumer culture?
  4. Do the kids today get everything their hearts desire? How will this make adulthood more difficult for them?

Writing Assignment

Some of the wording and vocabulary in the article may be difficult for your learners. Can they get the gist? Challenge your students to rewrite the journalist’s main point in their own words. Remind your students of the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarizing.

Video: The Marshmallow Experiment

Here is another fun way to introduce the expression “instant gratification”. Watch this video with your students, and discuss what happens. Some of these kids may surprise you! If you have young learners in your school, challenge your older students to run this test on them.

A Related Lesson Plan: Kids and Technology

ESL Lesson Plan on Kids and TechnologyOur lesson plan library has a ready-made lesson plan about Kids and Technology. You can find it in our Discussion Starters section. It includes a reading, vocabulary review, comprehension questions, and discussion questions. This lesson focuses on other aspects of kids and technology, such as how young is too young for kids to have their own mobile devices? Check out the podcast preview of this Kids and Technology lesson plan to see if it is suitable for your students.


Leave a Comment ↓

  1. Tara Benwell says:

    Jun 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Here is an interesting post about “delaying gratification” and how English learners want to be able to speak the language overnight:

  2. ESL Library Staff says:

    Jun 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    And here is an interesting article about “inauthentic reading material”.

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