We’ve heard of studies that suggest texting could lead to the deterioration of English skills in children. Some teachers will even tell you they’ve seen text lingo such as shortenings, contractions, acronyms, symbols, and non-conventional spellings appear in homework assignments. A new study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology contradicts these thoughts and claims texting could have beneficial effects on children’s language skills.
The study considered 88 children between the ages of 10 to 12. During the study, children were asked to generate text messages that described 10 different scenarios. From the study, children who texted regularly showed a richer vocabulary and were better equipped to express their thoughts in writing. In most cases, these children were also aware of the proper spelling of the words they were shortening. Through the course of the study, the children were also given traditional schoolwork. Here again, the students who texted regularly showed an edge.
According to Dr. Beverley Plester, the lead author of the report and senior lecturer at Coventry University, "The alarm in the media is based on selected anecdotes but actually when we look for examples of text speak in essays we don't seem to find very many." Plester goes on to say texting can help children since it exposes them to a variety of words. She also suggests the more exposure a person has to the written word, the more literate that person will become.
Since we tend to get better at things we do for fun, texting could be a good method for kids to use in improving their language skills. Plester further suggested children have a sophisticated understanding of the appropriate use of words.
This isn’t the first study that suggests benefits of texting or instant messaging. Studies from the University of Toronto have also shown a positive effect on teenagers’ command of language as a result of instant messaging use.