How
is text messaging affecting teen literacy?

Over
the decades the evolution of technology has rapidly accelerated the invention
of innovative devices. Cell phones have become the necessity of modern life for
almost all teenagers and adults. Cellphones are used to purchase goods, pay
bills, access music, and access lecturers or solve everyday concerns. Indeed
cellphones are a necessity! For the most part the burgeoning smartphone and apps
have not only revolutionized the way we communicate but also popularized a new
language. Altogether, introduction of text messaging feature has accelerated
conversations via SMS to a large group of people especially the teenagers. In
today’s age, nearly a generation of teens can access mobile phones. A study
conducted by Internet and American Life Project found out that nearly 75% of
all teenagers had access to mobile phones in 2015. In addition, an average
American teenager sends almost 100 text messages a day representing about 60%
of American teenagers that use their phones to text on each day. Research
indicates that modern day teenagers are more concerned about their phones than
even their books both at school and home. Teenagers are so obsessed with
texting that research indicates that on average teenagers spend more time on
their phones than on any other thing.

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Unfortunately,
while texting is widely used by teenagers to quickly and instantly get
conversation, the trend though beneficial has over time created diverse
concerns especially in relation to teenage literacy. Most teenagers don’t focus
much on basic grammar and spelling and at times misspell some words. This is
extremely harmful since the trend is in most cases passed in their education as
almost all teenagers tend to write in exactly the same way as they text.
Arguably, t teenagers that frequently text have little control on their habit
because after a while just like other repetitive tasks, the brain picks the
habit and stores it permanently enhancing repetition of the same even
unknowingly. In essence, many are against the habit of texting since it weakens
teenager’s mental ability by making them commit mistakes in grammar and
spellings. The new language” may in fact replace Standard English and teenagers
may be unable to appropriately use language. The latest fad in texting involves
use of “textese”. Textese involves the use of abbreviated vocabulary that
involves a combination of numbers and texts, emoticons and short phrases.  The vocabulary is rooted from text messages
that initially contained only 120 characters, forcing users to come up with
economical approaches to communication within these limitations. Abbreviations
such as TC (take care), LOL (laughing out loud), TY (thank you)
2nite
(tonight) and etcetera are common features in the ‘new language’ including
others like 2nite (tonight). Other complicated abbreviations include ‘CWOT’,
‘IDC’ to mean complete waste of time and I don’t care respectively. 

The
use of such abbreviations may be an outlier and texting may actually reduce
teenage literacy, reading skills and fluency in spelling. The style of texting
has been found to prop up even in teenage student’s school texts and
assignments. The ‘new language’ that is used by teenagers on their phones has a
negative impact on their literacy.  Apart
from textism, it is reported that most teenage students have numerous problems
in basic literacy from spellings, punctuation, language and grammar. Besides,
affecting teenage student literacy, problems related to excessive text
messaging have a significant effect on the teachers since they have a hard time
rating tests and assignments that are mostly written in texting style. on the
flip side, researchers have found that there are some positive effects to
teenage texting that range from emotional relief, conforming to language skills
that are on trend and compounded benefit especially for the introvert
teenagers.