Can Texting Improve Your Child’s Reading Skills?


by Barbara J. Feldman on February 7, 2010

One of the biggest concerns about texting (that adults have) is whether or not the abbreviated language of texting is affecting their child’s reading and writing and skills. The quick version of GR8 (Great) or BCNU (be seeing you) may be funny and even sassy but is it hurting your child’s overall literacy rate? The good news is that research shows that worried parents and concerned educators can relax. Studies have shown that the frequent use of text abbreviations does not harm children’s literacy and best of all may even improve it.

Since so many concerns have been raised that an explosion in the use of “textisms” could be damaging to children’s reading and spelling abilities, that in order to investigate, researchers asked 88 children aged 10 to 12 to write text messages describing 10 different scenarios. When they compared the number of textisms that were used to a separate study of the children’s reading ability, they found that those who used more textisms were better readers. Now skeptics are quick to point out that better readers generally have better vocabularies and those that struggle in school will be more content with simpler text but the study still shows that bright kids do not seem to be adversely affected by texting.

While the question may still remain: do textisms improve literacy, or do better readers use more textisms? The preliminary results of the studies seem to suggest the texting can improve literacy. Some educators and researchers believe that this is because textisms are phonetically based: This phonological awareness has long been associated with good reading skills along with exposure to the written word in any form is also linked to improved literacy. Texting allows kids to be more engaging with the written language and they are doing it for fun.

Texting allows your kids to connect with the outside world in a new and socially acceptable way. While no one disputes the potential downfalls to texting the upside is that your child is forced to use reading and writing skills even when sending messages like CMIIW (correct me if I am wrong). Helping your child use texting in a productive and effective way is your responsibility as the caring adult in their life. Studies have shown that when adults are monitoring both the context of text messages and the time that is being spent sending them then most kids suffer no ill effects from texting. So now that you know that texting within boundaries can be o.k. for your child here is what you should consider when setting boundaries-

  • The age and maturity of your child. Some kids as young as 9 can maturely manage their texting while other kids at 16 are not ready. As a parent you will need to determine whether or not your child is ready to have texting on their phone. Remember that using a phone is a privilege and it is not your parental responsibility to provide one with all the bells and whistles. The bottom line if you feel your child is ready turn on the texting if are unsure there is no harm in waiting.
  • Is school or activities suffering from excessive texting? If your child’s grades are falling or you notice a lack of interest in non-texting activities it may be time to set stricter boundaries on when and where the texting takes place. Some parents are demanding their child’s phone at mealtimes, during homework hours and even when their child goes to bed to prevent those all night texting sessions. In addition do not be afraid to let your child know that you will be checking their text content at any given time to insure that only appropriate texts will be sent.

More tips like this one in Online Trends,Parents,Teachers



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  • jessica

    Can you please email me the references to the studies you may have mentioned above.
    Thank you,
    Jessica

  • Christina Armistead

    David Crystal, the founder of internet linguistics, wrote a book called “Txting: The Gr8 Db8.” I think a lot of the studies mentioned in this article derived from the book. Also, if you’re interested in the effects of technology on education, I would recommend “A New Culture of Learning” by Thomas and John Seely Brown.

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  • Magda

    Could you give me direct references to the studies you mention in this article?
    Thank you,
    Magda