CHARLOTTE — Texting, a favorite and seemingly instinctive activity for teens, has loomed over education and parenthood for several years. Many adults felt like it would mash proper English into the ground and was a distraction from serious learning.
But now some teachers nationwide are seeking to harness its power and making peace with it. Researchers back this new approach with new evidence texting teaches some positive language skills, and pragmatists argue a war on texting is unwinnable.
McCanless, a civics teacher and swim coach, believes texting has become "an established part of teens' lives" and can be used as "a real tool as opposed to a hindrance."
None of the teachers, experts or even students interviewed disputes the dangers presented by obsessively sending text messages on mobile phones: 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). But some teachers see positive aspects of texting.
One long-held fear about texting has been its shortcuts such as OMG (for "Oh My God") seep into teens' language use, along with mangled, abbreviated and simplistic syntax. Yet despite much coverage of this in the press, researchers and teachers dispute it.
"Writing is good. Writing is expressing thoughts. Expressing thoughts is good. We just don't like their modality," argues
The study found texting may actually help teens' writing in informal essays and many other writing assignments. In a conversational essay about happiness — which asked "what does it mean to be happy?" — teens who used more texting shortcuts performed better than colleagues who did not.
The popular press has reported much on "textisms" entering students' schoolwork, Rosen says, "but research shows it's very, very rare."
The education blog www.edutopia.org reported in
There are negative impacts of too much texting, including a finding in Rosen's research that it can hurt students' performance in the most formal types of essay writing, a key component of some testing.