Texting vs. Literacy

Since 1993, texting has progressively been evolving. The popularity of electronic messaging began to rise in the 2000s because of the new technology that was making it easier for people to communicate without actually verbally talking on the phone. Since then, texting has become a lot more dominant, with about 4 million people participating in the texting world. 43% of teenagers say that texting is the number one reason they have a cell phone, with safety being number two at 35%. According to a survey carried out last year, “Americans between the ages of thirteen and seventeen send and receive an average of 3,339 text messages per month. Teenage girls send and receive more than 4,000.” (Ferguson). During the day it is proven that some devote about an hour and a half each day texting. The real question today is whether texting really impairs adolescent’s literacy or not.

Since technology has advanced, more and more schools have also advanced thus causing the “old fashion way” to read and look up information from an actual book; putting an abundant amount of books to waste. Technology has made things easier for students, by having all they need at the tip of their fingers. Very few would think about having to physically go to a library and search for a book, why do that when they have the Internet right in their pockets on their “smart devices.” Half of today’s teenagers do not read books—except when they are forced to. According to the most recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, “The proportion of Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four who read a book, which are not required at school or at work is now 50.7%, only half of the population” (Ferguson).

Many people have been concerned about texting and the effect it has on student’s literacy. One study shows that, “Young people who are heavy cell phone users make more mistakes in tasks involving memory, attention span and learning,” according to Michael Abramson, an epidemiologist who carried out the publically funded research. (Barton). Many believe that this can become a problem, but in reality it is just the world changing around us. Technology is advancing every day and society has to keep up. Students will need to learn how to use the Internet on their smart phones and they will need to adapt to having textbooks online because one day all of the “old fashion” tools that we once used as resources will no longer be available. Having students adapt at a younger age will be a lot more efficient when it comes to the next generations learning how to use the “latest and greatest” technology.

Having the newest technology, which keeps students very occupied, can cause many concerns that may be amplified to a greater extent than what they really are.  These abbreviations that are being used in texting are not new language; they have been around for decades. “Texting actually improves your literacy, as it gives you more practice in reading and writing,” stated by David Crystal in his 2008 book, Txtng: the Gr8 Db8. Students who text must break down words into syllables, and understand the words are a stream of compressed distinct language sounds, creating different abbreviations for each word.

“A study comparing the punctuation and spelling of 11- and 12-year-olds who use mobile phone text messaging with another group of non-texters conducting the same written test found no significant differences between the two. Both groups made some grammatical and spelling errors, and “text-speak” abbreviations and symbols did not find their way into the written English of youngsters used to texting.” (Ward). This study proves that there is no substantial relationship between texting and literacy efficiency.

A lot of teachers have actually been known for allowing students to not only text during class, but essentially answer questions through texting the answer to a website and have the statistics of the answers show up on the board which gives students a visual aid. Instead of just looking at pictures; this allows students to interact more rather than just listening to a teacher talk. “A small but growing number of educators are exploring how cell phones might be used to help students learn more and learn better. Kevin Thomas taught high school English for 15 years and is currently a professor at the Bellarmine School of Education. He regularly uses cell phones as a teaching tool” (Meinzer).

    Many are looking more into how texting could actually help kids rather than finding reasons why it would not help. “A National Union of Teachers spokeswoman welcomed the research, saying abbreviation used in texting could even boost literacy skills by helping children to learn about how words divide into syllables.” (Ward). Texting may be distracting and annoying at times but many use it to help them communicate easier with others, instead of having to verbally talk to someone.

Texting has developed better literacy proficiencies such as reading speed and accuracy. These findings add to the growing evidence for a positive relationship between texting proficiency and traditional literacy skills. “Teens who begin chatting in a distressed state often experience a reduction in negative moods after talking with a friend. The study reveals teens who regularly text—or converse via the similar instant message—may experience emotional relief and even strengthen their bonds with friends in a way that is supplementary to in-person relationships” (Meinzer).

    Text messaging has grown from being favored by the tech-savvy to a universal staple. More than half of the world now uses text messaging as a main source for communication. Texting has raised the question as to whether it impairs adolescent’s literacy or not. People argue that texting impairs children and adolescent’s literacy because of the language they use while sending text messages. Researchers have found in recent studies that texting boosts knowledge proficiencies because of teenagers’ ability to break down words into syllables. Texting actually provides us with better literacy skills such as reading speed and accuracy. Text messaging has allowed us to be more efficient, independent and direct in our interactions with each other. Texting does not make one unintelligent.

Works Cited

Barton, Adriana. “Texting may rewire young brains.” Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada] 17 Aug.

    2009: L4. Infotrac Newsstand. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Ferguson, Niall. “Texting Makes U Stupid.” Newsweek 19 Sept. 2011: 11. Infotrac Newsstand.

    Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Fleck, Alissa. "Texting & Its Positive Impact on Teens." Everyday Life. Texting & Its Positive

    Impact on Teens, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

Lenhart, Amanda. "Teens and Mobile Phones." Texting Has Grown Enormously in the past 18

Months and Is the Core of Teens' Communication with Friends. Pew Internet, 20 Apr. 2010. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.

Meinzer, Kristen. "Why Texting in Class Might Actually Be a Good Thing." Takeaway. N.p., 22

    May 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Ward, Lucy. "Texting 'is no Bar to Literacy'." The Guardian: 12. Dec 23    2004. ProQuest. Web. 14 Nov. 2013 .   

Text messaging explodes as teens embrace it as the centerpiece of their communication strategies    with friends.. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.    <    findings.aspx>.