Texting

Doesn’t
Make
You
Stupid
By Nicole Bonenfant &
Monica Lester
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You enter into your classroom on the
first day of school, and your eyes wid-
en and absorb the entire splendor you
see. You sit down in your seat, where a
computer tablet awaits you. The voice
of your teacher surrounds you as she
speaks into a microphone and begins
the lesson by showing you how to set
up your tablet with the projection at
the front of the room. Everything you
will need this year is on this tablet:
your syllabi, homework assignments,
and textbooks. The digital age is in
your hands.
The typical classroom now is com-
pletely different than that of previous
generations, whose technology was
sometimes as fancy as a new type-
writer. This drastic change is causing
some members of older generations
to say that today’s youth is not as liter-
ate compared to them because of the
fact that technology is so prevalent in
our society. Communication has be-
come digital and many believe that
texting is disintegrating the youth’s
ability to write and perform traditional
literacies like reading and writing
academically; however, some linguists
disagree and say that this digital com-
munication actually helps the literacy
of youth. And the evidence proves it.
The once-acronyms for instant mes-
saging are now becoming actual
terms that students use in their lives.
Although the use of “lol” or “brb” are
now
being used as words, students know
better than to use text lingo in aca-
demic works, in contrast to the be-
lief that students cannot switch from
text language to academic writing.
Past generations are used to the
techniques of reading and writing
that they were taught; they see them
as the only correct way. With almost
everyone, change is something that
is not welcome to many people who
have been used to something for
most of their lives. The main change
in our society from years ago is the
encompassing use of technology at
home and in classrooms, as men-
tioned previously.
These new technologies, and in
particular texting, are actually help-
ing increase literacy. Marty Kaplan,
a communications professor, wrote
a response to a British study done
about whether or not texting is
harming the way our children are
spelling and reading.
1
The study,
which refers to the text languages
as “textism,” states that the high rate
of texting actually is not causing a
massive literacy crisis. Kaplan goes
on to say that spelling in relation to
texting is not as critical as others
make it out to be, because spelling
does not define someone’s literacy.
One of the issues that many people
feel technology causes is the de-
cline of basic literacy skills, such
as reading and writing, due to the
increase of textism.
The affect that texting has had on
our youth has been generally pos-
itive, which disproves the negative
assumptions of angry parents and
frustrated teachers.
Scholastic dives deeper into this
notion that texting is actually help-
ing students learn how to write.
“Can Texting Help With Spell-
ing?” an article from the website,
discusses ways that texting and
technology have revolutionized
kids’ communication and have
helped improved their literacy
skills.
2
They go through facts that
say texting helps students read,
boosts phonology, teaches the
proper time to use textism, en-
courages fun wordplay, invent new
text, and helps them focus. In rela-
tion to how texting boosts phonol-
ogy, “to abbreviate message as
msg or tonight as 2nite, you have
to understand how sounds and
letters work, or how words are put
together.” Knowing how to do this
and then switch back and forth
from textism to standardized Eng-
lish is a great way that students
develop their own literacy skills.
The article encourages teachers
to bring texting into the classroom
because it will overarchingly im-
prove the students’ abilities.
Other academics agree with the
findings of studies that show a posi-
tive correlation between texting and
literacy. David Crystal, a British lin-
guist, is fascinated by the increase
of texting and texting language in
our society. In his book Txting: The
Gr8 Db8, he states, “All the popular
beliefs about texting are wrong, or
at least debatable. Its graphic dis-
tinctiveness is not a totally new phe-
nomenon. Nor is its use restricted to
the young generation. There is in-
creasing evidence that it helps rather
than hinders literacy.”
3
Linguists like
Crystal make sure to study these
popular beliefs of the youth becom-
ing illiterate because of technology.
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Crystal also states that there will al-
ways be some groups of children that
simply have trouble with basic literacy
practices, and that they’ve always ex-
isted, no matter which era you look
at. He states, “I do not see how texting
could be a significant factor when
discussing children who have real
problems with literacy. If you have dif-
ficulty with reading and writing, you
are hardly going to be predisposed
to use a technology which demands
sophisticated abilities in reading and
writing” No matter how technological-
ly advanced our society is, you cannot
blame the technology for some groups
of children being less literate than
their ancestors.
In the media-driven world that we live
in, texting has almost become a new
language to some people. Many pro-
fessionals agree that texting is actually
helping the literacy rates of school age
children and young adults, something
that may surprise most people. Grow-
ing up while computers and technol-
ogy were advancing, it is interesting to
see parents and grandparents against
a literacy improving practice such as
texting. Yet, it can be seen that they
have not been pushed to learn it as
the youngest generations have. The
younger generations have been guid-
ed to accumulate many literacies and
by this evolution, new ways of learning
how to develop literacy must be put in
place because the way a child thinks is
evolving with the technology.
Deborah Brandt, an English profes-
sor at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison, goes into depth about
accumulating literacies in her book
Literacy in American Lives. “The
piling up and extending out of lit-
eracy and its technologies give a
complex flavor event to elementary
acts of reading and writing today,”
she writes.
5
Texting extends a way
of communicating and therefore,
a new path of thinking. Because of
this, it is completely understand-
able that it is helping youth spell
because it is new way of approach-
ing it.
With being students of this genera-
tion, many young adults have had
experience in the technological
advances in classrooms and how
they have influenced their literacy
skills. For example, Monica, a 19
year old college student who grew
up near Detroit, Mich., has been
using textisms since she was in
middle school. She knew when it
was appropriate to use them and
when it was appropriate to use the
literacy rules she learned in school.
Correct grammar was found in all
of her school work, and textisms
played a role in making plans with
her friends after class. In the ninth
grade, Monica tested out of her
freshmen English class and started
taking upper level courses. She at-
tribute this ability to the practice
she had understanding different
contexts in texts and having to un-
derstand words piece by piece, a
skill often needed in reading tex-
tisms. This is a piece of evidence
that can contribute to our state-
ment that texting actually helps
literacy skills.
In consideration to the negative
debate on the effects of texting
on literacy, the argument surfac-
es every time a new technology
comes out. It is not unsupported
because it is the general consen-
sus every few years. Studies are
given to all new products, and the
public follow those studies if they
have an interest. The conversa-
tion about texting and literacy is
so widely popular because our
kids are involved. The education
of the youth is important to our
society, and we care what is af-
fecting their learning. In relation
to the “harmfulness” of texting,
Crystal says “The popular belief
is that texting has evolved as a
twenty-first-century phenomenon
– as a highly distinctive graphic
style, full of abbrevations and de-
viant uses of language, used by a
young generation that doesn’t care
about standards. There is a widely
voiced concern that the practice is
fostering a decline in literacy.
And some even think it is harming
language as a whole.” Anything new
has the potential of having positive and
negative effects, and the next step is to
listen to the findings.
In the technological dependent soci-
ety we live in, there are advances that
are both hurting and helping our youth
in their literacy habits. Texting, which
we examined throughout this article, is
one example of a new technology that
is actually helping the literacy of chil-
dren. Many people, mainly older peo-
ple who are not used to these technolo-
gies, feel that texting is hurting those
skills. This simply is not the case, and
eventually the naysayers of technol-
ogy in classrooms will understand that
texting is not as bad for youth as they
think it is. So for now, take the chance
look at this technology in a new way.
Be conscience of the language you are
using and how you form new textisms.
Your discoveries may just help you on
that upcoming paper.
Footnotes:
1
Kaplan, Marty. “Textism: Is Spelling Over?” Editorial. Hufngton Post. Te Hufngton Post, Inc., 10 Oct. 2013. Web.
13 Oct. 2013.
2
“Can Texting Help With Spelling?” Scholastic Teachers. Scholastic, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2013.
3
Crystal, David. “Te Hype About Texting.” Txting: Te Gr8 Db8. N.p.: Oxford UP, n.d. 9. Print.

4
Crystal, David. “Why All Te Fuss?” Txting: Te Gr8 Db8. N.p.: Oxford UP, n.d. 157. Print
5
Brandt, Deborah. Literacy in American Lives. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001. Print.
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