Tabloid newspapers would have you believe that the proliferation of texting and ‘textspeak’ are destroying our beloved English language, but new research suggests that those fears may be unfounded.
The study, performed by researchers from Coventry University, looked into the impact of texting on the language skills of 88 children aged between 10 and 12 years old. The children were given ten different scenarios and asked to write about them in text messages. These messages were then analyzed for their use of language alongside more traditional class work. The study, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, found no detrimental link between texting and linguistic development, saying in their report: “Children’s use of textisms is not only positively associated with word reading ability, but it may be contributing to reading development.”
Dr Beverly Plester, the lead author of the report and a senior lecturer at Coventry University, laid the blame for the negative views of text messaging squarely at the feet of sensationalist media outlets: “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 …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.”
Contrary as it is to popular opinion, the study backs up research done by the University of Toronto into a similar scenario, that of teenagers using instant messengers, and more than that, it makes sense when considered logically; after all, to be able to understand a short hand, you have to understand the long hand behind it.