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Texting is one of the most preferred modes of communication among students due to the ease and speed of communicating using texts. Texting has been criticized because of its negative effects on the performance of students. Academic critics argue that it causes distraction, affects the grammar skills of students, and lowers productivity as well as performance. However, several studies have shown that texting improves note-taking skills, fosters spelling, and enhances reading and writing. The use of abbreviation and manipulation of the phonological sounds of words improves the imagination and creativity of students. Opponents of texting among students argue that it fosters bad grammar because of the omission of capitalization, punctuation, and certain words in texts. Several studies have revealed that these omissions are not related to the academic performance of students in standardized grammar tests.
Texting is one of the most common forms of communication among young people that gained popularity with the emergence of mobile technology (Ochonogor, Alakpodia & Achugbue, 2012). Since the development of this technology, several research studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of texting on the academic performance of students. Cognitive psychology has revealed that one of the downsides of texting during class is poor performance. It encourages multitasking, which reduces performance because of divided attention. Opponents of testing argue that it reduces productivity, results in poor performance, promotes bad grammar, and worsens the spelling skills of students. On the other hand, proponents argue that it helps students improve their summarizing skills, increase creativity, sharpen communication skills, and enhance reading and writing skills (Dansieh, 2011).
The activity has been criticized by many experts in the academic field for its negative effects on the academic performance of students. Several research studies have validated the argument that texting is beneficial to academic performance because it makes students creative, improves their spelling and summarizing skills, improves their communication skills, and helps them read and write.
Benefits of texting
One of the benefits of texting is that it improves academic performance by promoting the spelling and note-taking skills of students (Dansieh, 2011). One of the most important skills that students in higher education need are note-taking. Students are required to take notes during lectures. Texting is a special form of shorthand writing that is valuable, especially to students whose instructors do not provide handouts or dictate notes during lectures. In that regard, texting improves note-taking in two main ways. First, it helps students learn how to use abbreviations in order to improve their writing speed. Second, it teaches them how to communicate big and complex ideas using few words (Dansieh, 2011).
Several studies have been conducted to study the relationship between texting and spelling skills. One such study was conducted by Bushnell, Kemp, and Martin in 2011 among Australian children. The study involved 227 children aged between 10 and 12 years. 82% of the participants informed the researchers that they sent more than five text messages daily (Bushnell, Kemp, & Martin, 2011).
In the study, the students were required to use different text message abbreviations. The study revealed that the types of abbreviations used by the children were positively correlated with their spelling abilities. They also found out that spelling ability improved with an increase in the number of text messages sent by participants (Bushnell et al., 2011). The findings of this study invalidated the claims by media outlets and certain academic experts that texting has a negative influence on the spelling abilities of students. Allowing students to use their mobile phones to text is likely to increase their spelling skills according to the findings of the aforementioned study.
Secondly, texting helps students to read and write (Dansieh, 2011). A recent study revealed that the use of abbreviations in texting is an indication of the acquisition and development of writing and reading abilities. One of the reasons for this correlation is that the elation and freedom of communicating through texts increase the delight of reading and writing (Bushnell et al., 2011). More reading and writing lead to greater engagement and achievement in various literary activities that influence academic performance (Bushnell et al., 2011).
Some critics argue that embracing the culture of texting does not affect conventional literary tasks that involve reading and writing. However, they ignore the fact that engagement with texting more often than not increases exposure to the written word. More exposure increases their appreciation of literary work and has a positive influence on their reading habits (Ochonogor et al., 2012). The positive influence of texting on reading and writing is primarily based on the frequency of involvement in sending and receiving text messages (Bushnell et al., 2011).
A study published in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning revealed that there is a direct relationship between texting and literacy. It noted that texting improves reading skills and phonological awareness. In order to create abbreviations for certain words, it is necessary for an individual to comprehend the phonology of words. Composing messages encourages students to think about the phonological basis and development of certain words (Bushnell et al., 2011). Spelling is closely associated with the phonology of words. Therefore, improved phonology improves the spelling skills of students (Dansieh, 2011). Researchers have found out that children who text frequently are more likely to possess superior writing and reading skills compared to children who rarely text (Bushnell et al., 2011).
The ability to abbreviate and manipulate words depends on phonological awareness. These arguments were validated by a study conducted by Wood et al. in 2011. The study involved 119 children between the ages of 8 and 12 years and evaluated the reading, spelling, and phonological awareness of participants. The children were requested to provide the text messages that they had sent in a span of two years before the study. Analysis of the messages revealed that texts that were sent at the beginning of the academic years were positive predictors of significant improvements in spelling skills at the end of the academic year (Clare et al., 2011).
Texting has affected the formal writing of students significantly because it has improved creativity and thus enhanced creative writing. Abbreviations were created in the 1940s and have been applied in different fields since then. Developing abbreviations is a difficult activity that needs a lot of creativity and imagination. It involves breaking down a message into captivating phrases that fit a certain word limit allowed for a text message. Text messages have a 160-character limit. Therefore, students have to come up with ways to shorten their messages in order to fit the character limit. On the other hand, texting involves playing with different aspects of words such as their phonology and spelling (Dansieh, 2011).
In addition to improving spelling and phonology awareness, texting makes students more creative. This creativity is useful in creative writing courses and other disciplines that require critical thinking. The creativity associated with texting emanates from the length constraint of texts, which encourages the economy of expression. This is similar to the economy of expression associated with poetry. Moreover, the brevity of text messages necessitates the eradication of complexity and verbosity. A student finds a way to reduce the most complex message into a simple form that can fit the 160-character limitation.
Creating abbreviations, decoding text messages, shortening messages, and eradicating complexity requires both creativity and imagination. The development of these mental faculties is beneficial because they can be applied in other academic activities such as note-taking and research. Brevity is an important component of clear, accurate, and assertive expression in writing. Through texting, students learn how to write briefly and summarize complex statements into concise messages without altering the original meaning.
Despite the aforementioned positive benefits of texting on academic performance, there are negative influences too. The main disadvantage of texting is that it lowers the grammar standards of students because it involves the use of shortcuts and the omission of essential punctuation marks that are important grammar components (Cullington, 2011). The use of homophones and the omission of non-essential letters affect the grammar skills of students negatively. Punctuation and capitalization errors are common grammatical mistakes that students make in texts (Cullington, 2011).
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Academic critics argue that texting worsens grammar and academic performance. However, several studies have shown that the grammar made in texts do not impact the grammar skills of students negatively. A study conducted by Wood and Kemp (2013) among 210 primary schools, secondary school, and undergraduate students revealed that the tendency to make grammatical errors in texts does not affect the students’ performance on grammar tests. The study did not find any relationship between the students’ understanding of grammar rules and the grammar violations they made when texting (Wood & Kemp, 2013).
The presence of errors in texts among secondary school students was associated with improved spelling abilities. The results showed a correlation between texting and low scores in undergraduate students. The omission of punctuation and capitalization was linked to lower test scores on standardized tests given to the students. The negative correlation validated past studies that associated texting with poor grammar. However, the researchers noted that the links were weak and explained their existence by citing the varied ability levels of different students who participated in the study (Wood & Kemp, 2013).
Texting is a common activity among students that emerged with the development of mobile technology. It has both negative and positive impacts on their academic performance. Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the relationship between texting and academic performance. The findings have revealed that the advantages of texting outweigh the disadvantages. Students benefits by improving their reading and writing abilities, acquiring better spelling skills, and learning how to summarize complex statements into simple texts without altering the original message. Critics have argued that texting fosters bad grammar among students because of the tendency to omit punctuation and capitalization in texts.
However, several studies have shown that there is no correlation between such omissions and the performance of students in standardized grammar tests. According to the findings of the aforementioned studies, texting is good for students and should be encouraged in order to improve their spelling abilities, creativity, and note-taking skills.
Bushnell, C., Kemp, N., & Martin, F. H. (2011). Text-Messaging Practices and Links to General Spelling Skill: A Study of Australian Children. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology, 11, 27-38. Web.
Cullington, M. (2011). Spotlight on First-Year Writing: Texting and Writing. Young Scholars in Writing, 8, 90-95. Web.
Dansieh, S. A. (2011). SMS Texting and Its Potential Impacts on Student’s Written Communication Skills. International Journal of English Linguistics, 1(2), 222-229. Web.
Ochonogor, W. C., Alakpodia, N. O., & Achugbue, I. E. (2012). The Impact of Text Message Slang (Tms) or Chartroom Slang on Students Academic performance. International Journal of Internet of Things, 1(2), 1-4. Web.
Wood, C., & Kemp, N. (2013). Text Messaging and Grammatical Development. Web.