Texting, techspeak, and tweens: The relationship between text messaging and English grammar skills
From New Media & Society
Throughout the world, cell phones have become omnipresent in classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways. This boom in popularity has led to diverse uses by adolescents. A 2010 report by the Nielsen Company found that American adolescent teens send more text messages than any other age group. This has led to an evolution in grammar, the basis of which we shall call ‘techspeak.’ This dramatic rise in popularity has led parents and teachers to question the effect of using this technology on adolescents’ understanding of English grammar during a developmentally critical period of language-skills acquisition. There is much debate among leaders in education, teachers, and parents as to the effects of techspeak on the grammar and writing skills of adolescents in the classroom setting.
This study considers if there is a causal link between text messaging adaptations and adolescent grammar. A survey was conducted to test the association between text message usage of students and their scores on an offline, age-appropriate grammar assessment test. The results of this study lend support to a general negative relationship between text messaging and adolescent grammar skills. The findings have many implications, especially in the classroom. Adolescents should be educated to understand the differences between techspeak and standard English grammar, recognizing that there is a time and a place for both forms of communication. It is impossible to stop techspeak entirely; indeed, it is a very useful form of communication when confined to places where formality takes a backseat to efficiency and speed. The study concludes that electronic technology usage for the purposes of teaching should be monitored to ensure that this does not allow adolescents to further habituate to using techspeak in the classroom.