15 February 2013
How Does Text Messaging Affect Teen Literacy
Text messaging has become an integral part of our lives; it has developed very rapidly throughout the world. With the uprising of new forms of communication that technology has introduced comes a debate on what effect these new digital mediums have on literacy. Text messaging is fastly becoming a primary form of communication for various numbers of people around the world. The mainstream media claims that the short hand and abbreviated characteristics of text messaging are making children lazy, not forcing them to use the proper grammar they learn in school. Feldman states that texting has become so popular that many have taken to calling today’s teens “generation text.” Texting is defined as the use of abbreviations and other techniques to craft messages sent through the cell phone. Texting does not always follow the standard rules of English grammar, nor usual word spellings. Literacy refers to more than reading and writing printed language. Plester, Wood and Joshi define literacy as the ability to decode information in various orthographic formats, including digital media, to make meaning from it, and to encode information into those formats to communicate ideas to others (3). Research and studies have been conducted to further understand the texting-literacy relationship. Parents and teachers often blame texting for the corruption of language and degradation in spelling. Teachers are complaining about textisms they are finding in students’ schoolwork. They wonder if texting can have any positive influence on learners’ language development. Many studies have found that teens through their texting, blogging, and emailing are reading and writing more than any other generation. Most research seems to focus on the relationship between textism use and phonological awareness, the use of textism and children’s spelling, and sending frequent texts help children to read and write. One area of interest for researchers was the relationship between the usage of textisms and school literacy attainment. Plester, Wood, and Joshi explored this relationship in 10- to 12- year old children in the United Kingdom. Their findings were there was no association between overall textism use and the children’s spelling scores; and there was a strong association between textism use and phonological awareness ( e. g. “2nite” sounds the same as “tonight”). In 2008, Wood, Plester and Bowyer began a cross-lagged longitudinal study with 63 children aged 8 -12 years old to further understand the texting-literacy relationship (3). The result of this study indicated that use of textism was positively related to the development of subsequent reading and phonological awareness. Another area of interest was the use of textism and children’s spelling. Textisms have been defined as essentially forms of phonetic abbreviation as in the example above, ‘2nite’ instead of ‘tonight’ (147). Researchers state that to produce and read such abbreviations require a level of phonological awareness and orthographic awareness of the child involved. Phonological awareness has been the focus of reading research for a number of decades, and such research has demonstrated a consistent association between different forms of phonological awareness and reading attainment (147). A study was conducted to determine the relationship between textism and spelling. The following textism categories were used: accent stylization (wiv, anuva), non-conventional spellings (fone, rite, skool), letter/number homophones (2moro, l8r), g-clippings (swimming, goin, comin), initialisms (lol, ttfn), contractions (txt, plz, hmwrk), and shortenings (bro, sis, tues) (151). The finding from this study was that knowledge of textism was positively associated with spelling attainment, and that the use of the more phonologically based forms of textism explained the most...