As more schools begin allowing students to bring their own devices and actually use them in class, the debate around the value of “digital writing” — texting, taking notes on mobile devices, tweeting, etc. — is heating up.
Some educators (and even a linguistic expert) believe kids who text are exercising a different, additional muscle when texting, writing, and note-taking — and that skill is actually adding to a student’s growing and changing repertoire.
“Children know that when you’re in school, you do not use texting language,” said linguistics expert Susana Sotillo, an associate professor at Montclair State University in an article in the North Jersey Record. “…No one is destroying the English language; the English language just keeps changing. It’s not a good idea to present change as a negative aspect.”
“Our students write more than any generation in history. They have to be doing something right.”
The ability to switch between formal writing and texting comes naturally to kids, tweets Sunightingale in response to the article above. “Kids know how to code-switch by learning when to text-talk & when to use a grammatical register: language evolution :),” she writes.
Critics of this genre of writing fervently disagree with the premise. “Seriously? As a teacher, I do not accept texting language. Texting is ABSOLUTELY hurting youth’s grammar and spelling. I can’t believe this is even a debate!” writes Cindy Barnes Herron in response to the link to the article on Facebook.
Apart from anecdotal evidence from educators and parents, research of this subject is also contradictory. The New Jersey Record article cites a study showing that kids who “recently sent or received a text message performed considerably worse on a grammar exam than those who had not.” The study included 228 kids age 10-14. This shows that traditional writing is being compromised, according to S. Shyam Sundar, a professor of communications quoted in the article. Continue reading