By Mark W. Danielson
LOL, I’ve forgotten how to write! Actually, since I don’t text, that isn’t the case, but it might be a problem for our kids. In fact, young people text so often that some believe SMS, the official abbreviation for Short Message Service or texting, may hinder their ability to communicate through normal dialogue. Technology has made it so kids no longer have to interact face-to-face. If this is true, then proper verbal and written communication may be in jeopardy. Nothing on the scale of our insecure borders or the threat of nuclear war, but I certainly hope our young people can shout something more alarming than OMG! should they spot a security flaw.
Communication is a skill that requires constant practice. Throw a person in solitary confinement and most will crave conversation within hours. In some cases, getting them to talk is the reason for locking them away. If you learn a second language but don’t have someone to communicate with, you will probably lose your proficiency in that language. Toss your personal computer out and you will lose you ability to transfer your thoughts onto a screen. Thankfully, those with well developed skills can quickly regain their proficiency if given the tools to do so, but this may prove difficult for our younger people if proper communication is not emphasized at home and in school. In this regard, bilingual schools may be creating more problems than they are solving.
It’s possible that a novel written in SMS could be printed in pamphlet size. For someone like me, that story would appear as code, but a proficient texter could probably read it in minutes. I’d like to think that words have more value than that, though. Besides, codes have limited life spans, whereas common languages are timeless.
Of course, there are other sides to this story, so I offer the following from a web site:
According to a study published by the British Academy entitled Is texting valuable or vandalism?, teachers and parents should embrace texting as a means of improving their children's phonological awareness. “Children who are heavy users of mobile phone text abbreviations such as LOL (laughing out loud), plz (please), l8ter (later) and xxx (kisses), are unlikely to be problem spellers and readers. The research, carried out on a sample of 8-12 year olds over an academic year, revealed that levels of “textism” use could even be used to predict reading ability and phonological awareness in each pupil by the end of the year. Moreover, the proportion of textisms used was observed to increase with age, from just 21% of Year 4 pupils to 47% in Year 6, revealing that more sophisticated literacy skills are needed for textism use. The study conclusions will come as a surprise to many who believe that textisms are vandalizing the English language.”
A variety of stories debate the effects of text messaging on student's writing skills. On the positive side, you have: RU Kidding - "txtspeak" Has No Impact on Children's Spelling Ability, Texting can b gd 4 ur kids, Texting teenagers are proving 'more literate than ever before'. Those against texting have: Technology marches ahead, grammar gets worse, Y TEXTING MAYBE BAD 4 U, SMS and Internet blamed for decline in English Examinations. Of course, the Department of Motor Vehicles has their own take, having seen a rapid increase in accidents from people texting while driving.
Whether you agree or disagree with texting, it is a form of communication that is likely to stay with us. Having said that, not everyone speaks SMS so be careful if you include it in your novels. CU L8tr.