The Effects of Texting on Literacy: Is It Corrupting Language?

Topics: Text messaging, SMS, Instant messaging Pages: 11 (3720 words) Published: February 15, 2011
Is it corrupting language?


What’s SMS? SMS first appeared in GSM in about 1991. SMS later appeared in CDMA and TDMA networks. Mobile Origination (MO) - a key feature of SMS, allowing the user to originate SMS messages from the handset - has only became available to non-GSM users in 2000. Ask a kid anywhere in the world, he or she would tell it is form of talking to another person(s), with a cell phone using letters and not words. SMS means “short messaging service”. Meaning sending and receiving short, most of the time very short messages, to and fro one another. Texting also refer to the art and skills of using abbreviations and other techniques to create SMS and instant messages. Texting does not always follow the standard rules of English grammar, nor usual word spellings. Texting has become so widely used and persuasive that it is almost regarded as a new language register. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones as well as internet-based instant messaging (IM). There is a new wave of communication sweeping across the world. Generations are now typing, texting and tweeting their own unique language. This word abbreviated Morse Code like grammar sweeps from computer to phone on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. For a number of years teachers and parents have blamed texting for two ills: the corruption of language and the degradation in spelling of youth writing.


Students are growing up in different worlds – a world full of ever-changing communication tools and technology. These tools are seemingly integrated into our daily lives. Born after 1980, children are surrounded by electronic games, communications devices, computers and the internet. They live in an always-on world and these tools are an integral part of their lives (Prensky, 2001). Born after 1980, students make up of the majority of the population called the digital natives (Prensky, 2001). They are a totally alien beings compared to the generations before them without technology. They think different, talk different, write different. This is now forcing educators to rethink how they teach and how today student is wired to the digital world. So connected they are at the verge of not being able to distinguishing between online and offline (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008). Digital native would be more comfortable texting rather than picking up the telephone to communicate with their friends (Palfrey & Gasser, 2008).

More than the majority of teenagers today own a mobile phone. A study of 200 teens, 12 – 15 years old, found that on average they spend 40 minutes a day instant messaging ("Media use statistics," 2008). Teens, 12 – 17 years old spend 75% of their time online sending and receiving text-messages (Lenhart, Madden, & Hitlin, 2005). Three popular forms of textmessaging include microblogging, Instant Messaging (IM), and Short Messaging Service (SMS). All three forms of communication share many of the same characteristics and can be classified as a form of text-messaging. Therefore, the term text-messaging will be used throughout this paper when referring to text-messaging as a general category. A brief description of each type of messaging service will be defined. IM is a form of computer “chat” that allows real time text-based conversations with one or more individuals on the Internet, and is a popular form of communication among young people today (O'Connor, 2005).

Students who text or contribute to the Web by way of tweets, daily blog postings, etc becomes his/her “digital footprint”. Because of this, Richardson (2008) declared that students must be educated and become sophisticated owners of their online spaces. Garfinkel (2004) referring to the importance of instant-messaging stated, “In a future increasingly filled with instant-messaging opportunities, that’s a skill that they—and you—will find vital” (p.92). In...
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