DailyTech recently detailed studies which have argued that "textisms", which include shortenings, contractions, acronyms, symbols and non-conventional spellings, are becoming a language of their own. Now a new study shows that, despite public fears that texting is destroying children's language skills it actually is having beneficial effects.
Dr. Beverley Plester, the lead author of the report and senior lecturer at Coventry University, states, "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."
Texting helps children as it exposes them to a variety of words, she says. She continues, "The more exposure you have to the written word the more literate you become and we tend to get better at things that we do for fun. What we think of as misspellings, don't really break the rules of language and children have a sophisticated understanding of the appropriate use of words."
The study looked at 88 children age between the ages of 10 to 12. It asked them to generate text messages describing 10 different scenarios. The study showed that children who regularly texted showcased a richer vocabulary, the ability to better express thoughts in writing, and were aware of the proper spelling of the words they were shortening in most cases. The children were also given traditional schoolwork and again the texting students showed an edge.
The study is published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Similar recent studies at the University of Toronto have shown that instant messaging may also provide children with a similar beneficial effect.