Many have branded text messages as the bane of modern-day writing, claiming that the widespread use of abbreviations and slang is chipping away at basic writing skills.
Yet a study by a research team for the Department for Education has found that text messages, blogging and social media can actually help hone the skills of youngsters.
The report found that ‘blog owners and pupils using a social networking site reported to be significantly better writers compared to pupils who don’t use blogs or social networking sites.’
The report discovered that many teenagers did not consider texting as ‘writing’ and still turned to pen and paper
The report, called ‘What is the research evidence on writing?’ was penned by the Education Standards Research Team from the Department for Education and looked at the impact of technology on writing.
A small-scale study investigated the links between text message abbreviations – called textisms – and school literacy outcomes on five classes of pupils aged ten to 12.
The report said their study ‘found no evidence that a child’s development in written language was disrupted by using text abbreviations.
‘On the contrary, the study found evidence of a positive relationship between use of textisms and word reading ability.’
The report’s authors claimed that they had evidence that showed a positive relationship between textisms and spelling.
They said it could be because text messages require pupils to have an understanding of sound structures and syllables in words.
Hold the phone! Researchers found a positive link between ‘textisms’ and writing
And those worried that the English language was being eroded by a younger generation who turned to their phones, instead of a pen and paper, to communicate with a friend, can rest a little.
Although evidence suggested that most pupils engage in technology-based forms – such as texts or emails – at least once a month, they did not necessarily consider it ‘real writing’.
The report said that 60 per cent of teenagers taking part in an internet research project ‘did not think that technology-based writing such as text messages, emails, instant messages or posting comments on social networking sites was “writing”.
The study did however show that while children still wrote in a traditional fashion – using forms such as letters, lyrics, fiction, diaries and poems – it was to a lesser extent than their habit going online on their mobile phones.
However, some teenagers admitted that technology had an impact on their writing .
Twenty two per cent said they slipped in text message abbreviations like LOL – for ‘laugh out loud’ and using informal styles, for example missing out punctuation marks, in their work.
The report also found evidence that girls enjoy writing more than boys, while Key Stage 2 pupils, enjoyed writing more than older pupils at Key Stages 3 and 4.
Researchers also found that there was a difference in ethnic groups over enjoyment of writing.
They said: ‘Pupils from the white ethnic group enjoyed writing less than pupils from mixed, Asian and black ethnic groups.
‘For example, 46 per cent of white pupils enjoyed writing very much or quite a lot, compared to 55 per cent of pupils from the mixed ethnic group, 57 per cent of the Asian group and 59 per cent of the black group.’
For the first time in history, the volume of calls from landlines and mobile phones fell in July.
By contrast, texting has never been more popular, with the average Briton now sending 200 a month, compared with just 70 in 2006.
New research from telecoms regulator Ofcom reveals that the number of fixed-line calls continues to slump, by 10 per cent to 116billion minutes in 2011.
But, for the first time after years of sharp rises, the number of mobile phone calls also dropped from 125billion minutes to 124billion minutes. By contrast, in 2011 more than 150billion texts were sent compared with 50billion five years ago.