There is a phenomenon that has loomed over education and parenthood for the past several years. This cultural activity is texting-a favorite and seemingly instinctive activity for teens. Both parents and teachers have felt like texting will destroy proper English and was a distraction from serious learning. In addition some physicians and psychiatrists fear that texting is taking a toll on teens’ sleep patterns and ability to think for themselves. You may be surprised to learn that train of thought may be changing.
Today, nationwide some teachers are seeking to harness its power and are making peace with text messaging. Research is backing this new approach with new evidence that texting teaches some positive language skills and some realists feel that waging a war on texting is simply un-winnable. Savvy educators have realized that it is time to make way for texting and since by all accounts it is here to stay. Educators are free to admit that texting has become an established part of teens’ lives and feel it can be used as a real tool. Other teachers report that when they embrace the importance of texting for their student they really appreciate being met at their level.
It is important to keep in mind that none of the educators, experts or even student that were interviewed dispute the dangers presented by obsessively sending text messages on cell phones. It is apparent that some students text too much, text in inappropriate places (like the classroom), text in troubling ways (such as suggestive “sexting”) and text at times that are unhealthy (such as all night). However despite this some teachers see positive aspects of texting.
One of the biggest fears about texting has been its shortcuts that seep into teens’ language use, along with mangled, abbreviated and simplistic syntax. Yet even despite much coverage of this in the press, researchers and teachers still dispute it. Educators maintain that writing in any form is expressing thoughts and expressing thoughts is always good. Studies have found that texting may actually help teens’ writing in informal essays and many other writing assignments. In a study that featured a conversational essay about happiness when teens were asked “What does it mean to be happy?” teens that used more texting shortcuts performed better than their peers who did not. While some press has reported on “textisms” entering students’ schoolwork research actually shows it’s very rare.
Educators have even taken this a step further by asking students to translate passages from classic literature to texting-speak to demonstrate a comprehension of language and the differences in context. This is in line with current research that shows that: Texting-speak are not a mangled form of English that is degrading proper language, but instead a kind of “pidgin” language all its own that actually stretches teens’ language skills.
No one can overlook however that there are negative impacts of too much texting; studies have shown that it can hurt students’ performance in the most formal types of essay writing. As with anything an overuse of texting or texting in the wrong circumstances as listed above is never beneficial. Educators and parents must work together to set boundaries on appropriate texting behaviors.
The bottom line is that students and teachers are working together to incorporate today’s technology into the educational setting. Students appreciate the ease of texting a homework question or finding information instantly while teachers will continue to be creative in incorporating texting into their everyday curriculum. By working together students, educators and parents can use texting with all of its ramifications to broaden and deepen the educational possibilities for all students.