9 Feb 2011


FACT:- Children are now more likely to own a mobile phone (85%) than a book (73%). - the Guardian.

FACT (or is it?):- Texting makes pupils more literate.

Children who are fluent in text messaging have better literacy skills than youngsters who do not use mobile phones, according to scientists.
The ten-year study examined the effect of texting on 8 to 12-year-olds found that children as young as 5 who used mobile phones were better at understanding rhymes and syllables in speech.
"We were surprised to learn that text use was driving the development of reading skills in children. It is also a valuable form of contact with written English for many children, enabling them to practise spelling on a daily basis." said psychologist Dr Clare Wood.
"We are hoping to instill a change in attitude in teachers and parents to recognise the potential to use text-based exercises to engage children in phonological activities." - the Telegraph (05/02/2011)

For those of you not aware I've spent all my working life working with people and am a qualified teaching assistant. The main bulk of my work being to assist those children who had been assessed as having special needs. As part of my remit I used several different methods to engage children but I have to admit that texting was not one of them.

At a push I suppose I can see the usefulness, if not need, to use TEXT SPEAK/SMS LANGUAGE when texting - the use of it anywhere else has my blood boiling, steam coming out of my ears. I'm forever reminding Niece #1 and Nephew 'English!' when they for example update their FaceBook status using text speak so can only imagine what my reaction would be if it was to be employed as a valid teaching tool.

Reading the above article, I couldn't help but shout out 'what rubbish' (or words to that effect) - the two things to really annoy me?

Children as young as 5 with mobile phones? I'm aware that I could well be on dangerous ground here and am at risk of offending people BUT I'm afraid it's going to take a lot (an awful lot) of persuasion for me to see the need for a 5-year-old to have a mobile phone.

Enabling them to practise spelling on a daily basis? Hmm, perhaps if they were writing words in their entirety then, yes, this would be of great benefit but how many children can resist the urge to use 'CU L8R' and 'Gr8' etc?

AND ........

What of those teachers who fail to understand 'message slang?

A study revealed more than four-in-10 teachers failed to understand some pupils' writing because it was so littered with obscure language.
Phrases such as "innit" and Gr8 are now regularly found in school work, it was claimed.
One teacher told how an essay contained the sentence "i noe u dnt noee mii,i donno huu u r" - I know you do not know me, I do not know who you are.
Another student wrote "ma m8s wnt ova" - my mates went over.
It was revealed that, in one case, four teachers had to mark a pupil's essay together because it was so confusing. - Graeme Paton, the Telegraph (12/12/2008)


PS. You might find this TEXT MESSAGE TRANSLATOR (lingo2word) useful.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Now that is a scary statistic!

Vivienne said...

Five year olds with phones!!! Ridiculous. My girls have only just got them as they about to start secondary school and will need them. I get so annoyed when I see little kids with phones.

budh.aaah said...

Umm..I dunno PW wht u wnt me2say n dis n y...
:) Of course I dont think it could make them more literate. Thats a joke right. But tech savvy yes, which would help the brain.

Erratic Thoughts said...

Ahhh!Tracy I so agree with you...
By no means are these kids going to learn written English better than books.Look at the text-slang they use, if they start using cell-phones at such early age, they will never get their spellings right!
But wait, what about the study that says the use of cell-phones should be reduced?That fact goes straight into the dumps!

Su said...

I'm with you-- that's just a load of rubbish. Kids may be understanding syllables/phonetics a little better with texting, but perhaps if today's kids were, I don't know, reading or having face-to-face interaction with literate humans instead of their telephones, we'd see the same result. I don't think we can take today's kids and compare them with a generation ago when they were watching TV instead of reading, either-- we'd have to go much further back than that to a less media-saturated age to compare and see just how effective texting is at increasing literacy.

And I don't think I'd have bothered to correct that essay-- I'd have handed it back to be rewritten!

Misha said...

The statistic disturbs me a lot! Personally, I don't see the need of cell phones . And WHY would 5 year olds require them at all??!!

Patti said...

Very disturbing, but I see it happening all the time.

Lilly said...

I completely agree with you!
When I see a 5 year old with a mobile I feel like telling them not to take their parents phone, and then I realise it's probably their own.
And I know some people that can't spell because they only ever write in "sms language". It once took me about 15 minutes to try and figure out what one of my friends had put as her Facebook status, I even had to ask for help figuring it out.

Dizzy C said...

I too was a teaching assistant for 7 years and worked as one to one and in small groups specialising in literacy and numeracy skills (concentrating on giving my toddler the best start right now).

I can understand that the rhyming slang of texting may help but I, personally, struggle these days to type an email or post without littering it with text slang and symbols. No the case when I am handwriting.


Suko said...

OMG! Real-e? Sounds crzy 2 me!

GMR said...

My thoughts...oye. I can understand how it helps them learn language earlier (*shakes head*) or quicker....but CORRECTLY is another story altogether as illustrated in your second article. It becomes second nature so they (okay, even us at times) don't know or recognize the difference until it's pointed out. Do we really want children growing up this way? For all it's value, the negative effects are too strong in my opinion. Great post Tracy!

Dorte H said...

I think they have a point about texting. Our friends have a son who spoke very late, and for the same reason it was difficult for him to learn to write. They gave him a phone much earlier than his older siblings to encourage him to text his classmates. Suddenly he had a reason to want to write.

Kelly said...

My opinion about all this has changed a bit in recent years. My kids didn't get cell phones until they started driving and that was for safety reason (and not to be used WHILE driving, of course). My 9 year old granddaughter got one from Santa this year (I never thought I'd say that!) but I can understand the reasoning. Her parents are divorced and now she can call each one every day while at the other's house. She can also text me when she wants to. I've just told her I prefer she NOT use any abbreviations when texting me as I rarely do when texting others.

Nikki-ann said...

Funnily enough, we were discussing kids & mobile phones at work the other day. A colleague had been in a supermarket when a kid (who could have been no more than 7 or 8) walked passed her chatting on his mobile phone. Her comment was "What kid needs a mobile phone at that age?". We didn't need them when I was that age!

Anonymous said...

I think no matter how we feel about it, text writing is going to make it's way into common usage just like many slang words did.

Personally I love efficiency and testing is that. I don't text btw. Well I guess I do a little I just did. I don't text on my phone, I have it turned off because I was getting text spammed. XD

Melissa Gill said...

Well that's just depressing. I'm wondering who's sponsoring that study that texting makes children write better, maybe the same people who have five year olds with cell phones.