The latest research on the psychology behind massive text messaging shows that parents should carefully reconsider taking their teens' cell phones away from them. According to a recent paper published in the latest issue of the journal British Journal of Developmental Psychology, texting may very well be helping children learn invaluable language-related content, even if it doesn't seem so at first.
On the contrary, when an English teacher looks at a text message for the first time, it becomes clear to him or her that the child or teen that has sent it has no idea how to spell. And that may be true in some cases, the researchers say, but not in most of them. In fact, youngsters who communicate through messages show proof that they understand exactly how oral constructions are built in the English language. The kids are actually taking the whole language to a new level, even if critics argue that it's a wrong one.
Basically, every expression and intonation has to be inserted in an SMS message, only not many of the teens who use their cell phones regularly have the time to do so. Instead, they resort to abbreviations, which allow them to write even the most complex and long words with only a few letters. One way to do this is by simply removing all the vowels from a term, leaving only consonants. With practice, a seemingly undecipherable message can actually make sense.
“Children's use of textisms is not only positively associated with [the] word reading ability, but it may be contributing to reading development,” researchers from the Coventry University who have put together the new paper maintain. For the new research, they studied 88 children between the ages of 10 and 12, and established that using SMSs could actually have a positive impact on the little ones' reading developments.
“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. 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,” Coventry University senior lecturer and lead author of the study Dr Beverley Plester concludes.