Kids who use text speak have declining language and grammar skills
A new study says that text messaging could leave tweens with declining language and grammar skills.
Kids who frequently used 'text speak' or 'tech speak' were found to perform badly in grammar tests, claims researcher Drew Cingel, a doctoral candidate in media, technology and society at the Northwestern University.
When using tech speak, youngsters take language shortcuts, using homophones and making omissions of non-essential letters and initials in order to write and send their messages (msgs?) as swiftly as possible.
"They may use a homophone, such as gr8 for great, or an initial, like, LOL for laugh out loud," said Cingel. "An example of an omission that tweens use when texting is spelling the word would, w-u-d."
This, Drew Cingel claims, could eventually stop children from switching back to correct grammar when writing formally.
Working with Professor of Communications and co-director of the Penn State's Media Effects Research Laboratory, S. Shyam Sundar, Drew Cingel tested the grammar skills of middle school students in a central Pennsylvania school district.
Researchers then reviewed the test, which was based on a ninth-grade grammar review, to ensure that all the children in the study had been taught the concepts of correct written English.
The kids were then quizzed on their texting habits, and the number of texts they typically sent and received, and how important texting was to them.
They were then asked to list the number of word adaptations they had made in their last three sent and received text messages.
From this, Cingel reported: "Overall, there is evidence of a decline in grammar scores based on the number of adaptations in sent text messages, controlling for age and grade."
Prof Sundar added that frequently sending and receiving text adaptations impacted on how poorly they performed on the test.
"In other words, if you send your kid a lot of texts with word adaptations, then he or she will probably imitate it," he said. "These adaptations could affect their off-line language skills that are important to language development and grammar skills, as well."
The researchers further suggested that the students inability to switch back to proper grammar combined with a desire to imitate friends could combine to influence the poor grammar they demonstrated in formal writing.
Sundar said that modern technology influences the use of language choices, as youngsters usually write their messages on tiny screen and keyboards.
"There is no question that technology is allowing more self-expression, as well as different forms of expression," he said. "Cultures built around new technology can also lead to compromises of expression and these restrictions can become the norm."
More on Parentdish: Texting, emails, social networking: Are they destroying family life?
Do you think text speak has a negative effect on your kids' written English?